A Book Review of Michael Williams’s Book “Far As the Curse Is Found”

Dr. Michael Williams is Professor of Systematic Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary. His degrees are from Moody Bible Institute (Diploma), Calvin College (BA), Harvard Divinity School (MTS), University of Toronto (Ph.D.), and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary (M.Div.). He has been at Covenant since 1996.

The book he has written is, like many other books, good in some places, and not so good in other places. Unfortunately, the not so good places have some rather significant implications for the current situation in the PCA. But we’ll start with the good things.

Firstly, there is a salutary emphasis on resurrection in this book. He holds to the literal resurrection of Christ from the dead, and he believes that this fact has enormous implications for the Christian life. In an age which has sometimes forgotten the resurrection, this is a good thing. He takes trouble to connect the cross and the resurrection together, which is always important to do. In reference to this, he notes that resurrection was not any less difficult to believe in the first century than it is now (p. 4). If Williams overstates the importance of resurrection by saying that it is “the best single term to catch the nature of redemption and the character of the Christian hope,” (p. 15) we can perhaps forgive him in the current climate. Later we find that he has not forgotten the cross.

Secondly, it is a helpful idea sometimes to start with the Exodus, before one deals with Genesis. One could argue that Genesis tells us what is wrong, while Exodus gives us a picture of the solution, and this is a valid point. However, it is not an exaggeration to say, with Williams, that Exodus provides the pattern for redemption.

Thirdly, Williams dismisses myth as an acceptable way of thinking about Scripture (p. 54).

Fourthly, he has a sound principle of authorial intention (p. 77). He argues that the text is our key to the authorial intention (which can be found!).

Fifthly, he seems to have a clear understanding of the difference between grace and obligation (p. 105).

Sixthly, his account of why the land of Israel was the promised land for God’s people in the OT is insightful (p. 115).

Seventhly, he definitively holds to the visible/invisible church distinction, as well as a distinction of sign and thing signified (pp. 130, 251).

Eighthly, his insight into Luke 4 is illuminating (pp. 243-245).

And, ninthly, his correspondence of Pentecost to Mount Sinai is also very interesting (p. 261).

And now for the criticisms.

Firstly, he gets off on the wrong foot defining covenant as relationship (pp. 45, 143, 236). Relationship is already established before the covenant is made (witness Abraham’s relationship to God well before Genesis 15 and 17, as well as God’s relationship to Adam before the terms of the covenant were made). Covenant is not relationship, but agreement. We might say that a wedding is a covenant ceremony, but there jolly well better be a relationship ahead of time!

Secondly, he is firmly monocovenantal. Here are some quotations: “But the human story from creation to new creation does change, and that affects how God administers his creation covenant” (p. 46), “We may view covenant history not as a series of disconnected installments but as a single line. Each new covenant presupposes and renews what went before. Specifically, God’s redemptive acts to not oppose or deny his creative intent, but come as restorative promises in relation to creation,” (p. 51), “Yahweh enters a covenantal relationship with his creation and with his people. He sovereignly initiates that relationship, choosing and binding himself to the recipients of his steadfast love. The relationship in no way depends on the prior performance of the chosen; it is, from the outset, wholly gracious…The covenant of creation thus provides for newly constituted Israel what it affords God’s people in every age: a full-bodied way of life that we are called to live before God and in the midst of the world” (p. 62), “Both before and after the fall, man was related to God in virtue of God’s grace” (p. 73), “We have so far considered the climactic and defining moment of the marriage (the resurrection), the story of how the couple first met and became involved (creation), how the hero saved the heroine (the flood, the exodus), and what they promised to each other in their wedding vows (the covenant words)” (p. 170). I would especially draw people’s attention to the quotation from page 73, for on page 74, Williams goes on to deny the substance of the covenant of works. He says, “Thus before the Adamic fall the terms of the covenant were addressed to man as creature. After the fall the covenant (note: the same covenant! LK) addresses man not only as creature but also as sinner in need of redemption…As both grace and law (love and holiness) are essential to God’s character, so the two are inexorably bound together and interdependent within the covenant…Legal obligation is not the precondition for life and relationship.”

We must be careful here. The Westminster Confession of Faith clearly advocates some aspect of God’s favor to man before the Fall, as the precondition for any kind of relationship. However, the question that needs to be asked is this: on what basis would Adam have had eternal life? The question is not whether there were any aspects of non-legal relationship between God and man. Most of the Reformed world has agreed that there are. The question is much more narrow than this, and refers entirely to the basis upon which Adam would have obtained eternal life. Was it by grace or by works? Williams says that Adam already had life (p. 72): “What I am suggesting here is that life in covenant relationship with God was something that Adam enjoyed by God’s grace. He possessed it as a gift. He could lose that gift by the misapplication of his responsible freedom, his disobedience, but he could not earn or merit it.” In other words, life was not promised to Adam; rather, he already had it. This raises several serious questions: if Adam already had it, then we cannot call it eternal life, can we? If we cannot call it eternal life, then God put Adam in a catch 22 situation, for Adam could not have gotten out of a state that had the perpetual danger of losing what he had. There was no way for him to progress beyond this state. None whatever. Williams rejects any and all aspects of a “merit-based” covenantal arrangement: “it is dangerously misleading to describe Adam’s relationship as merit-based” (p. 72). Of course, this begs the question of what kind of merit we are talking about: Williams never defines it. But it would seem that any kind of works that would be the basis for obtaining eternal life is rejected by his formulation, whether it is condign, congruent, or pactum merit. Hence, the covenant of works is rejected by Williams in all its essential aspects: there is nothing beyond his current state for Adam to obtain, and there is no way for him to obtain anything beyond his current state.

Further, Williams seriously confuses law and gospel. In fact, he advocates a kind of covenantal nomism as the proper understanding of all covenantal arrangements between God and man. This much is clear from pages 150-151. Here are the relevant quotations: “It is imperative that we see that in the giving of the law we witness the same relationship between grace and obedience that God has maintained from the beginning.” Now, in certain contexts, this could be true, except that he brings it back all the way back to creation. This is clear form what follows: “As he created Adam to obey his word, Yahweh redeems Israel to obey his word. There is no question of merit in either case…I cannot say this strongly enough. The law was never intended to be a means of earning salvation…In fact, we can speak of the law as a further act of grace, a gift to God’s people that serves his covenantal and gracious purposes. Thus the call of the law is to translate God’s grace into action. The law is the divinely intended means by which the covenant is nourished and maintained” (pp. 150-151). If the law was never intended to be a means of earning salvation, then Jesus Christ did not earn our salvation by means of law-keeping. Law winds up being grace, and grace winds up being law. This is not mitigated by his statement “Man’s obedience brings blessing; his disobedience brings curse” (p. 68), because he does not define the nature of the blessing or the cursing. Hence it is a statement with which almost anyone could agree.

This book is required reading for every single seminary student who goes to Covenant Theological Seminary, and is required in a class taught by Dr. Williams that is required of every student going through Covenant Seminary. The students are being taught a non-confessional view of the Covenant of Works in this class, and through this book, whereas our denomination has ruled strongly in favor of the Westminster Confession’s treatment of the Covenant of Works. While the book has some good things we can glean from its pages, it should not be used as a standard treatment of covenant theology.

About these ads

142 Comments

  1. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    >Further, Williams seriously confuses law and gospel.

    Does Williams deny sola fide?

  2. Phil Derksen said,

    April 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I recently said I was going lay off commenting on blogs for a while-and I have for almost a week now. But I’m gonna make an exception here.

    David, your frequent, sarcastic sniping on this blog is really getting to be very annoying. It adds absolutely nothing substantive to the discussion others are trying to have in good faith. It’s certainly fine to raise thoughtful arguments against Lane’s or others’ positions here, and even to employ backhanded humor and satire in the process. But would you please consider refraining from taking these kind of pointless pot-shots? Thank you.

  3. TE Stephen Welch said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Phil, I echo your frustration. This is the main reason I don’t do much blogging.

  4. Carter said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Williams said:
    “What I am suggesting here is that life in covenant relationship with God was something that Adam enjoyed by God’s grace. He possessed it as a gift. He could lose that gift by the misapplication of his responsible freedom, his disobedience, but he could not earn or merit it.”

    And:

    “It is imperative that we see that in the giving of the law we witness the same relationship between grace and obedience that God has maintained from the beginning.”

    I am new to covenant theology, so take my elementary questions for what they are, but don’t these quotes suggest that we can lose our salvation through disobedience? He says Adam’s relationship to God wasn’t merit based, but then what meaning does the punishment of death have? How are we situationally different than Adam?

    He also said:
    “As he created Adam to obey his word, Yahweh redeems Israel to obey his word. There is no question of merit in either case…I cannot say this strongly enough. The law was never intended to be a means of earning salvation…In fact, we can speak of the law as a further act of grace, a gift to God’s people that serves his covenantal and gracious purposes. Thus the call of the law is to translate God’s grace into action. The law is the divinely intended means by which the covenant is nourished and maintained”

    How is the Law gracious? It seems to me that if the Law is gracious, and all the covenants are really just under one overarching covenant, then God’s gift of land, temple, etc. to Israel were in fact, gracious, and I would think, unconditional. This all sounds an awful lot like what they taught me at my dispensational college. Am I getting this, more or less? Or are my conclusions erroneous?

  5. Manlius said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Another one bites the dust according to the L/G hermeneutic. Don’t worry, Dr. Williams, you’re in good company.

    Lane, I have to be frank. You just don’t sound very Reformed. You flatten out the Bible to fit your law/gospel hermeneutic and stuff all you can into it. What do you think of John Murray? No good, probably, since I’m sure in your view he confused law and gospel. No doubt his monocovenantalism offends you. Where did you go to seminary? I went to WTS-Phila. I definitely did not learn what you’re teaching.

    Is there any gospel in the book of James? (Talk about confusing messing up justification, right?) Is there any gospel in the Sermon on the Mount? (It’s hard for me to imagine all the “blesseds” not being gospel, but hey, if it doesn’t the L/G hermeneutic, they’ve got to go, eh?)

  6. Manlius said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    You know, I didn’t take Mr. Gray’s question as sarcasm. Given what Lane has recently posted, it seems to me a legitimate question.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    First of all, Manlius, I’m a graduate of WTS Philly.

    Second of all, the LGD is Reformed. If you don’t believe me, read Colquhoun’s book rather than reject it out of hand as you seem to be doing.

    Third of all, I think Murray has been misread as being monocovenantal, when in fact he believes that Adam would have obtained eternal life by works, not by grace.

    Fourth of all, it is monocovenantalism that flattens out the distinction of Adam before the fall and Adam after the fall, and makes the covenant of works the same thing as the covenant of grace, explicitly contrary to our standards.

    Fifth of all, I hold to the third use of the law, in accordance with standard Reformed teaching.

  8. April 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Manlius,

    Why are you hiding behind a pseudonym and taking potshots?

    Not very manly.

  9. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    >You know, I didn’t take Mr. Gray’s question as sarcasm. Given what Lane has recently posted, it seems to me a legitimate question.

    It was entirely a serious question given what Lane has written on his blog. From the silence perhaps I should conclude that when Williams confuses law and gospel he does not deny sola fide?

    >But would you please consider refraining from taking these kind of pointless pot-shots? Thank you.

    See above.

  10. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    After all Lane said:

    “I have come to the conclusion that the law/gospel distinction is essential to preserving sola fide…”

    Presumably this does not only apply to overt FVists…

  11. Jeremy K. Bowser said,

    April 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Lane,

    I’m glad you’ve done this work on Michael Williams, especially since Wes White and others have brought up questions about what is going on in Missouri Presbytery. I have several friends who have come out of CTS and had Dr. Williams in class. Before the 2002 Auburn Avenue conference, he openly expressed sympathy with Peter Leithart, Doug Wilson, and N.T. Wright. Beyond his monocovenantalism and his confusion of l/g, he has also publically questioned the imputation of the active obedience of Christ (like James Jordan, he said that the resurrection status of Jesus is imputed to believers … hence his emphasis on the resurrection). After the Covenant Seminary Symposium on NPP, he has backed off on all this because of pressue from others at the seminary. But like many of our PCA ministers now, he does question many things in the Standards. I think we should look more closely at what is being taught at our own denominational seminary. With Jack Collins, Dr. Williams also expresses sympathy for paedocommunion.

    Jeremy K. Bowser

  12. terry west said,

    April 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Phil,
    You are going to seriously get on David’s case for that question when what u accuse him of is all that I have seen from GLW Johnson? Come on guys… a little tougher skin is needed I think. I mean I’m surprised this conversation has been so civil in light of what people are being accused of denying. For what its worth I think this blog does quite well considering how it used to be a couple years ago.

  13. Vern Crisler said,

    April 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    #1
    David, someone can affirm X which includes the set {a, b, c}, while at the same time denying c. Lane is, in effect, saying that a person’s denial of c undermines X, viz. is ultimately a denial of X.

    Sort of like those who believe in the doctrine of creation but deny the six days and the young earth of Genesis. One can only hold to the former by a happy inconsistency, or perhaps by compartmentalizing the inconsistency, but sometimes the inconsistency ultimately leads to a full blow evolutionism among weaker minds.

  14. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    >David, someone can affirm X which includes the set {a, b, c}, while at the same time denying c. Lane is, in effect, saying that a person’s denial of c undermines X, viz. is ultimately a denial of X.

    Vern, thanks, I think I got that. What I’m wondering is given that Williams appears to have very serious problems with “c”, as understood by Lane, doesn’t that entail the same consequences as when Wilson has a problem with “c” as well.

  15. Manlius said,

    April 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Brian, I’ve got no problem with my name. It’s A. Manlius Burgess. It has nothing to do with being manly. I’ll confess I don’t meet those criteria all that well.

    As for my taking potshots (which I dispute, actually, since I don’t think I’ve been that harsh), I guess I forgot the rules of greenbaggins. Those apparently are: 1) if you belong to the choir, you can be as snarky as you want, and 2) if you’re a critic, you’d better be a good boy and mind your manners. So be it; it’s your turf. I guess I should just appreciate the fact that you let me post at all.

  16. Tom Wenger said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Manlius,

    If Lane doesn’t sound very Reformed to you, what is your standard for what qualifies as Reformed? His teaching is undeniably attested to by the tradition both in the confessions and the works of confessional theologians.

    From what is he veering in your understanding?

  17. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    >His teaching is undeniably attested to by the tradition both in the confessions and the works of confessional theologians.

    I thought only the Pope made that claim.

  18. Tom Wenger said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    David,

    Is this supposed to be funny?

  19. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    >Is this supposed to be funny?

    Only if you think it is funny to make an absurd statement. Lane may well teach entirely within the tradition but to argue that people cannot deny it, aka discuss whether it is so, is bizarre. That is a way of essentially saying you agree with him but wish to imbue it with far more authority than your actual statement would carry.

  20. Matt Beatty said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Lane,

    It would appear – perhaps you have a way of extricating yourself here? – that the recent recant on D. Wilson’s orthodoxy related to his failure to observe the same law-gospel distinction that you do, in precisely the way you do, SHOULD lead you to condemn the views of a professor of theology teaching at your denominational seminary… if you were being consistently bloodhound-like.

    To make not-so-subtle insinuation about Dr. Williams’ influence in the denomination all the while picking on a man (Wilson) who, by most people’s estimation, is barely relevant to your context (and paltry compared to your estimation of Williams’ considerable influence) is straining a gnat and swallowing a camel.

    Why not file charges of unconfessional theology on Covenant’s prof? Cut the cancer out at the root, don’t mess around with all these little branches.

    Or would that be an overly ambitious project and make for bad manners in the PCA?

    Seems like if one is inclined to run-out all those who confuse the law and gospel, this would be the place to begin.

    David Gray, irrespective of where his tongue was in relation to his cheek, was right on the money.

  21. Vern Crisler said,

    April 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    #13
    Well, as I said David, people who affirm X, but deny c may avoid the problem by happily looking the other way or compartmentalizing it.

  22. David Gray said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:22 am

    >Well, as I said David, people who affirm X, but deny c may avoid the problem by happily looking the other way or compartmentalizing it.

    That is certainly true. But bearing that in mind if we are correct then Lane is in error as he asserts Wilson denies sola fide. Wilson clearly does not do so openly and Lane has not charged him with deceit so the most Lane should be able to say, if we are right, is that Wilson suffers from internal contradictions with sola fide, not that he denies it. But here is what he says:

    “This means that every proponent of the Joint Federal Vision Statement denies sola fide.”

    That seems incompatible with your assertion.

  23. stuart said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:11 am

    To be fair (and don’t we want to be fair in dealing with one another, whether we agree with one another or not?), Lane didn’t claim that Williams denied the law/gospel distinction. He said “Williams seriously confuses law and gospel.” Confuseing the law/gospel distinction and deniying the law/gospel disitinction are two dsitinct things.

  24. stuart said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Sorry, for all the typos in the last post . . . it must be too early in the morning!

  25. David Gray said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:35 am

    >Confuseing the law/gospel distinction and deniying the law/gospel disitinction are two dsitinct things.

    So at what level of error regarding the law/gospel distinction do we suddenly find ourselves denying sola fide?

  26. Sean Lucas said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Hi, Lane:

    I’m not big on blog commenting, but I was disturbed by this review. As someone who has worked very closely with Mike Williams for several years and who has recommended his book, I was quite surprised that you have read him this way. Here is my take on the points you raised.

    First, when Mike says that the covenant of creation continues, he is saying the same thing as traditional reformed theology: namely, the first covenant (whatever you call it) still remains to be fulfilled after Adam’s fall; Christ does so in his obedience and satisfaction. Mike also believes that God has particular promises made to the creation (Genesis 9; Romans 8); that God will not abandon the stuff of earth, but will renew it—the resurrection is an example that God is concerned about matter and not simply about souls. He clearly affirms bi-covenantal structure (covenant of creation and covenant of grace).

    Second, while I’m not comfortable always thinking of covenant as relationship, again the CoF doesn’t define covenant beyond the language of “condescension.” To rule other definitions out of bounds is to create an extra confession to which others must subscribe. But Mike doesn’t buy the whole Ralph Smith/Jim Jordan “trinity-as-covenantal-relationship” language; to read him this way is to read him incorrectly.

    Third, I don’t believe that the CoF requires one to believe in Adamic merit. It never uses the language of condign or congruent merit with Adam; I think we have to be careful to stay very close to confessional language when we judge others. Mike clearly believes that Adam could “demerit” and only Christ “merits” (the only confessional mentions of “merit” are connected with Christ). I went over this ground thoroughly with Mike when I was academic dean and was perfectly satisfied.

    Fourth, the charge that really surprised me was that Mike confuses Law and Gospel. Mike used to get on me for my (supposed) Lutheran preference for the first use of the Law; I have always heard Mike talking in terms of traditional Calvinian third use of the Law. To read him as though he was talking about “covenantal nomism” strikes me as worrisome; if we aren’t careful in the way we stress the continuing need for believer’s obedience, we can slide into antinomianism. I’ve never read Mike as suggesting that our obedience will play a role in our final justification.

    Perhaps in an effort to find ground against Jeff Meyers, you have read Mike more suspiciously than he deserves. Taken in the context of traditional Reformed theology, Mike’s book holds up quite well. If we aren’t careful in the way we talk about some of these things, then well-revered teachers of the Reformed faith (I’m thinking here John Murray, Wilson Benton, David McWilliams, Dick Gaffin) would suddenly be outside the pale.

    In Christ,
    Sean Lucas

  27. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Maniul, no. 15:

    A certain amount of snarkiness is allowed anyone on this blog, althought some of us find it in bad taste and not at all helpful to conversing. Of course, nothing but snarkiness in one’s comments is definitely not appreciated.

    Thanks for your name, A. Manlius Burgess. Might you tell us a little more about yourself, that we might know who we’re talking with? Are you a pastor, denomination, what state/country, where did you go to seminary (if not a layman)?

    I’m Reed DePace, pastor at 1st PCA in Montgomery, AL. I graduated from WTS Philly.

    Thanks for your openess.

  28. Tom Wenger said,

    April 2, 2010 at 7:54 am

    David,

    You seem to seek the most narrow and uncharitable interpretations of people’s words that you can find. There have been plenty of posts on this blog alone, not to mention plenty of other references that have been mentioned here, that illustrate confessional and historical precedent for the Law/Gospel distinction in Reformed theology. That’s all I was saying. The references are there and they are plain. If someone is unaware of those things they need to be aware of them in determining whether or not such views should qualify as “Reformed.”

    But if they ARE aware of the tradition’s statements on this issue and still claim that such views are not Reformed, then what would their basis be for such a claim?

    That is clearly all I was stating. Although I can see how it would be unclear to you because you don’t see any need to reconcile your aberrant views with those of the tradition.

  29. David Gray said,

    April 2, 2010 at 8:14 am

    >You seem to seek the most narrow and uncharitable interpretations of people’s words that you can find.

    I hope you have a sense of irony. A good deal of the anti-FV enterprise heavily evidences precisely that.

    >Although I can see how it would be unclear to you because you don’t see any need to reconcile your aberrant views with those of the tradition.

    That seems a tad uncharitable and a bit narrow.

  30. stuart said,

    April 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

    David,

    In the interest of fairness, I would say your questions are legitimate as far as the bare issue contained within the question goes.

    Does Lane think Williams denies sola fide? Maybe, maybe not. I certainly will not answer for him.

    The issue I raised was that according to Lane since Doug Wilson denies explicitly a law/gospel distinction he implicitly denies sola fide. As far as I know, Williams hasn’t explicitly stated that he denies a law/gospel distinction. Lane simply said there seems to be confusion between the categories of law and gospel in Williams book, not that there is an outright denial of any distinction between the two.

    As for the level of error needed to deny sola fide, I’m sure there is more than one way to draw a line in the sand, but it’s a legitimate issue to raise.

  31. Manlius said,

    April 2, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Reed,
    Here goes: Congregational minister; north of Boston; WTS-Philly M.Div. ’97; broadly Reformed, not strictly confessional (iow, not TR or FV); rather ecumenical.

    I know I don’t fit the typical profile of a greenbaggins commenter, so I honestly do appreciate being allowed in, as it were. I have no desire to be hostile, since I regard all of you as Christian brothers. What gets me going is when I believe people are moving from legitimate protection of biblical orthodoxy to unnecessary exclusion. I have no problem with the NAPARC churches maintaing strict confessional boundaries. I may disagree, but it’s really not much of my business. What is my business (in the sense, of course, that it is all of our business in the Reformed tradition) is promoting Christian unity and maintaining the traditional boundaries and definitions of Reformed theology (be they broad or strict). I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I think the recent posts on this site are coming dangerously close to undermining both of those principles.

    There may or may not be good Reformed reasons to critique men like Doug Wilson and Michael Williams, but their failure to use the L/G hermeneutic is defintely not one of them. I don’t doubt that Lane is a Reformed guy. What I’m saying is that his adherence to the L/G hermeneutic does not support his Reformed standing. In fact, it rather undermines it.

  32. April 2, 2010 at 9:18 am

    “Only if you think it is funny to make an absurd statement. Lane may well teach entirely within the tradition but to argue that people cannot deny it, aka discuss whether it is so, is bizarre. ”

    I don’t think that is the case, or is fair. LK has several times said that he doesn’t doubt that those of the FV he’s debating are Christians. Like the recent PCA Judgment against Leithart, the accusation is firstly “contrary to the Westminster Standards” not contrary to the Bible. Naturally the support for the WS has to come from the Bible, but in a way it’s a separate subject when it comes to church discipline. Chaos doesn’t help anyone. Perhaps one of my friends is right, and Christ was created. Perhaps another is right, and all churches should be independent. Those things can be addressed, and should be, but the immediate concern is that in the mean time, you can’t teach those things in confessional Presbyterian churches.

    David, you remind me of the school kid how hides behind someone bigger and sticks his tongue out at people.

  33. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Manlius: thanks for your response and the irenic spirit. If I might use one of your comments to observe a concern for Christian charity from my side perspective as a moderator here, one who regularly struggles to promote such charity:

    “What is my business (in the sense, of course, that it is all of our business in the Reformed tradition) is promoting Christian unity and maintaining the traditional boundaries and definitions of Reformed theology (be they broad or strict).”

    I agree. I am concerned, however, when differences of opinion as to where those boundary lines are to be drawn evoke unChristlike responses. We all need to keep in view that the subject of conversation is always about exacty where to draw the line, exacty what is the definition.

    What one assumes is the is often not what the other understands it to be. Charity begins the moment we decide to respond to this difference of opinion.

    In our disagreements it serves no purpose for one side to call the other names when the other side expresses their opinion about the line/definition.

    These issues are more or less important depending on how clsoe they get to the “vitals” of our religion (a definition we also disagre on). It is not charitable to begin with the assumption that, “everyone knows my definition is the, and how could that other commenter not know this (or maybe he does – what’s his game?)”.

    It is helpful to use the counsel of our forefathers in determining the answer. It does no good for either side to use such counsel as mere hand-grenades to be tossed over the “demilitarized zone.”

    Other examples could be amasse. Yet I am particularly concerned with the frequency of the resort to snarkiness. Some who post here assume snarkiness is to be the normal mode of expression. Often snarkiness is used without first asking a reasonable questio of a brother, assuming the error our snarkiness seeks to lampoon.

    I speak as one who gets this kind of treatment from both side often enough that its kind of cliche’ by now.

    I may take offense at a brother’s characterization of my position. And whether he has done it with grace and sincerity, or contempt and ill-will, I serve a Christ Who will not countenance my using that as an excuse for my own unChristlike behavior.

    It is even worse when we perceive offenses against others and then use that as an excuse for our use of snarkiness in their defense. It is not a defense Christ will honor.

    As a rule I sincerely try to avoid snarkiness and sarcasm. When I think it may be called for I try to use it with clear expressions of my desire to bless the other person, not merely verbally knock them down. I particularly find the serrated edge not a knife to be kept in one’s han, as if it is the old fall back.

    I don’t propose I have all the answers, or practice anywhere near perfect what I am preaching here. I do thank those who have taught be to behave better.

    I do believe it is a great offense for any of us to assume that the other is not motivated by the same desires for Christian charity and unity that we profess in ourselves. Far too often the first response a commenter makes on a given topic at least suggests the commenter is being less than charitable in his assumptions about others.

    Unless/until one of you tells me otherwise, I’m bound to assume you are seeking Christ’s blessings for His Church. I may disagree with you over the what/how, etc.. God forgive me if I assume less of you.

  34. Phil Derksen said,

    April 2, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Pastor Reed,

    Excellent points – which I too often fall short of myself.

    While I don’t ever want to “go soft” in defending what I believe to be vital truths, or downplay what I believe to be the dangers when they are denied or deformed, or fail to defend others who rightly uphold them, I will certainly try to first recall the Christian virtues proffered here before I make comments about someone or something that is being discussed.

    WLC 144 and 145 are absolutely loaded in terms of warning us about how we can easily go off either side of the road in any of these things, as well as the serious consequences when we do – we are breaking God’s commandment.

    “Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
    A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbour, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbours; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

    “Q. 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
    A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting; thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.”

    Wow! Would anyone here want to claim that they generally abide by even a fraction of these things? Sadly, I know I can’t. Nor do our modern culture and communactive venues like the internet lend themselves to promoting these virtues.

    Personally, subduing, or at least better channeling the snarkiness that seems to be naturally a part of my personality is something I need to work on, with God’s help, in my own journey of sanctification.

    Thanks again for your pastoral counsel and concern

  35. Uri Brito said,

    April 2, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Pastor Lucas,
    For clarification, if someone came to your presbytery for ordination and made the following statement:
    “Thus before the Adamic fall the terms of the covenant were addressed to man as creature. After the fall the covenant addresses man not only as creature but also as sinner in need of redemption…As both grace and law (love and holiness) are essential to God’s character, so the two are inexorably bound together and interdependent within the covenant…Legal obligation is not the precondition for life and relationship.”
    Would he be welcomed or treated as an anti-confessionalist?
    Many thanks,
    Uri Brito

  36. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Sean, thanks for commenting. I appreciate your concerns, even if I cannot agree with your conclusions. I respect you greatly, and was therefore quite disheartened to find that you disagreed with my conclusions. You state:

    BOQ First, when Mike says that the covenant of creation continues, he is saying the same thing as traditional reformed theology: namely, the first covenant (whatever you call it) still remains to be fulfilled after Adam’s fall; Christ does so in his obedience and satisfaction. Mike also believes that God has particular promises made to the creation (Genesis 9; Romans 8); that God will not abandon the stuff of earth, but will renew it—the resurrection is an example that God is concerned about matter and not simply about souls. He clearly affirms bi-covenantal structure (covenant of creation and covenant of grace). EOQ

    I agree that it is clear that Williams affirms that Adam was in covenant with God. However, when he says, for instance, that legal obligation is not the precondition for life and relationship. He says further that grace and law is the same before and after the fall, and that the main difference is that man needs redemption now. He explicitly denies any notion of merit in the Adamic covenant. Personally, I don’t know how WCF 7 can be understood apart from some concept of merit: Adam’s obedience, being fulfilled, would be the basis on which God granted to him the promised eternal life.

    BOQ Second, while I’m not comfortable always thinking of covenant as relationship, again the CoF doesn’t define covenant beyond the language of “condescension.” To rule other definitions out of bounds is to create an extra confession to which others must subscribe. But Mike doesn’t buy the whole Ralph Smith/Jim Jordan “trinity-as-covenantal-relationship” language; to read him this way is to read him incorrectly. EOQ

    I did not accuse him of the Ralph Smith/Jim Jordan “trinity as covenantal relationship” idea or language. I simply didn’t read him that way, and am not sure how you came to that conclusion. One does not have to hold to the Ralph Smith paradigm to define covenant as relationship. I guess I would phrase it this way: there are a number of Reformed authors who define covenant in relational language. The reason I’m not comfortable with that is not that it necessarily, in and of itself, contradicts the confession, but that it often (though not always) leads to other problems. I was simply voicing my concern that this was in fact happening in Williams’s book.

    BOQ Third, I don’t believe that the CoF requires one to believe in Adamic merit. It never uses the language of condign or congruent merit with Adam; I think we have to be careful to stay very close to confessional language when we judge others. Mike clearly believes that Adam could “demerit” and only Christ “merits” (the only confessional mentions of “merit” are connected with Christ). I went over this ground thoroughly with Mike when I was academic dean and was perfectly satisfied. EOQ

    What about pactum merit, or merit according to agreement? Is not the Confession saying that Adam’s obedience was the basis of his obtaining the eternal life that was promised? How is that any different from saying pactum merit? The words aren’t there in the confession, but the idea is exactly the same. I don’t want to quibble about words here. Whether one uses the language of pactum merit (God and Adam agreed that if Adam obeyed, he would obtain, on the basis of that obedience, the promised eternal life), or simple works (which IS the language of the confession), it doesn’t really matter. Williams does not appear to be happy with any formulation along those lines.

    BOQ Fourth, the charge that really surprised me was that Mike confuses Law and Gospel. Mike used to get on me for my (supposed) Lutheran preference for the first use of the Law; I have always heard Mike talking in terms of traditional Calvinian third use of the Law. To read him as though he was talking about “covenantal nomism” strikes me as worrisome; if we aren’t careful in the way we stress the continuing need for believer’s obedience, we can slide into antinomianism. I’ve never read Mike as suggesting that our obedience will play a role in our final justification. EOQ

    If someone came to me and accused me of being Lutheran in my understanding of the first use of the law, that in and of itself would be a red flag. The issue here has nothing to do with the third use of the law, upon which Williams, Lucas, and Keister probably all agree. Rather, it is the nature of his description of the law AS grace, and grace AS law that has me concerned. It could be argued that this is true in the third use of the law. But it is NOT true of the first use of the law, at least not directly. The only sense in which that would be true is if one says that the law serves grace insofar as it drives us to Christ. But that is quite a different thing from saying that law is grace and grace is law. And, to answer some of the other queries, I do see a difference between confusion and denial of the LGD, the latter being much more serious than the former, although the former is serious enough. It would be hasty at this point to say that Williams denies sola fide.

    BOQ Perhaps in an effort to find ground against Jeff Meyers, you have read Mike more suspiciously than he deserves. Taken in the context of traditional Reformed theology, Mike’s book holds up quite well. If we aren’t careful in the way we talk about some of these things, then well-revered teachers of the Reformed faith (I’m thinking here John Murray, Wilson Benton, David McWilliams, Dick Gaffin) would suddenly be outside the pale. EOQ

    I endeavored to read Williams as charitably as I could. That is why I included nine things I liked about the book. I don’t think Williams is FV himself. But I am just not seeing how the authors you mentioned hold the same views. Williams quoted them a lot, of course. But that doesn’t mean they hold the same views.

  37. Frank Aderholdt said,

    April 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Uri Brito,

    Sean Lucas is the Senior Minister of the church in which I am a Ruling Elder and member of the Session (First Pres., Hattiesburg, MS-PCA). He is rock-solid in his opposition to all things truly Federal Vision. I trust his overall assessment of Dr. Michael Williams and his book. In my recent perusal of the book, I have noticed some passages that are, shall we say, less clear than they should be (the term “infelicitous” comes to mind). I have not read the book in detail but plan to shortly.

    Here are my thoughts on the quotations you cited from page 74 of “Far As the Curse Is Found”:

    Please note that the quotations are from three different paragraphs on the page and do not present a complete picture of the author’s view of the Biblical covenants, either pre-fall or post-fall.

    On page 74, the sentence, “Legal obligation is not the precondition for life and relationship,” is followed by, “Rather, life and relationship form the necessary environment for obligation.” At first glance, this may sound like monocovenantalism, but I’m convinced it is not. After all, Adam was created in perfect righteousness and holiness, and was in blessed communion with his Creator from minute-one, so to speak. Thus, it’s entirely appropriate to state that legal obligation was “not the precondition for life and relationship,” but that the life and relationship Adam had with God formed “the necessary environment for obligation.” This is not to deny for a moment that Adam stood on his own, as it were, without a Mediator, with the obligation to keep God’s law by “personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience” (WCF 19.1). In other words, Williams’ statement is not in conflict with the Confession’s exposition of the covenant of works, in my opinion.

    There’s much more to be said, of course. I’m just trying to give one RE’s answer to Uri’s question by focusing on a single statement. If a candidate for examination quoted those excerpts before Presbytery, I would seek to probe deeper, reference the precise wording of the Confessional Standards, and seek further clarification. Taken by themselves, though, and in the context of Dr. Williams’ book, I don’t believe they point to a FV-type monocovenantal view.

  38. Andy Gilman said,

    April 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Lane quoted Williams above:

    “What I am suggesting here is that life in covenant relationship with God was something that Adam enjoyed by God’s grace. He possessed it as a gift. He could lose that gift by the misapplication of his responsible freedom, his disobedience, but he could not earn or merit it.”

    And Jeff Meyers in his “My Response to Recent Accusations” says:

    Communion with God was not something to be earned by Adam and Eve. They possessed “spiritual life.” It is misleading to say that Adam and Eve would have been rewarded with life because of their obedience.

    Sean Lucas says:

    I think we have to be careful to stay very close to confessional language when we judge others. Mike clearly believes that Adam could “demerit” and only Christ “merits” (the only confessional mentions of “merit” are connected with Christ).

    Though Adam already had “spiritual life,” or “life in covenant relationship,” and could not earn or merit the life he already had, he clearly could earn or merit his continuation in that “spiritual life,” or “life in covenant relationship” by his obedience. This is implied by the fact that he could “demerit” life by his disobedience.

    From Berkhoff’s “Systematic Theology:”

    THERE WAS A PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE. Some deny that there is any Scripture evidence for such a promise. Now it is perfectly true that no such promise is explicitly recorded, but it is clearly implied in the alternative of death as the result of disobedience. The clear implication of the threatened punishment is that in the case of obedience death would not enter, and this can only mean that life would continue.

    From Shaw’s “Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith:”

    Here, indeed, there is no express mention of a covenant; but we find all the essential requisites of a proper covenant. In this transaction there are two parties; the Lord God on the one hand, and man on the other. There is a condition expressly stated, in the positive precept respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God was pleased to make the test of man’s obedience. There is a penalty subjoined: “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” There is also a promise, not distinctly expressed, but implied in the threatening; for, if death was to be the consequence of disobedience, it clearly follows that life was to be the reward of obedience.

    When a man denies the covenant of works by saying that Adam already had life, as a gift, and therefore could not “earn” or “merit” life, how is that not a denial of the WCF when it says “wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.” Life was promised upon a condition. If Adam already had the promised life, then the WCF is wrong to say that the promise of life was suspended upon a condition. What was that life that was promised?, and how can the condition of “perfect and personal obedience” be seen as anything but a requirement which, if fulfilled, will be rewarded with life?

  39. jeffhutchinson said,

    April 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Frank,

    Greetings. I am sure you all are deeply thankful for your (relatively) new pastor; I know he is very glad to be there with you and the church.

    I liked your way of putting it, “In my recent perusal of the book, I have noticed some passages that are, shall we say, less clear than they should be (the term “infelicitous” comes to mind).” A few years ago, when Sean was passing through town and still on the faculty at CTS, I mentioned my concerns to him about some similarly “infelicitous” sentences in some of Dr. Williams’ writings over lunch, so you (and Lane, for that matter) aren’t the only ones to long for a better statement of things in his writings (and possibly in his classes as well).

    The passages I mentioned at the time were in Dr. Williams’ article in Covenant Seminary’s magazine, in the Summer 2007 article entitled, “Core Value #7: Kingdom Perspective.” The most troubling sentence to me was when he wrote, “God is concerned about economic justice among His people just as much as He is concerned about their salvation. And clearly He is as concerned with how we treat animals and care for the land as how we treat one another.”

    Why couldn’t he have simply said, “God is also concerned about economic justice, God is also concerned with how treat animals and care for the land”?

    Anyway, thanks for your comment here; no need to respond, I’m just simply echoing your observation and your longing for more “felicity” in Dr. Williams’ teaching.

  40. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Andy: appreciate the references to Berkhof and Shaw (two I use regularly in discipleship). It is important to ask a brother whether or not he agrees with the notion that the promise of the continuation of Adam’s life (spiritual, communion with God, covenant relationship) was contingent upon personal/perfect obedience.

    It seems to be that the critical factor revolves around the emphasized word. Not sure how you can affirm the CoF without amening this. As well, not sure I’ve heard enough to say Williams does not add his amen.

  41. Uri Brito said,

    April 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Frank,
    Thanks for the taking the time.
    Uri

  42. April 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    These latest comments are helpful to the discussion. No one is claiming that the life Adam had by virtue of his being created was earned or the result of anything less than God’s goodness, benevolence, and condescension.

    What we ARE saying, though (and what the Reformed confessions say), is that there was something beyond this that Adam lacked, and that was eternal, un-loseable Sabbath rest. It was THAT that he was to gain through his obedience to the terms of the covenant of works.

  43. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Spot on, Jason, this is Turretin-like in its elimination of false parts of the question, paring it down to the real state of the question.

  44. April 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Well, he got a lot of his ideas from me.

  45. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Now wait a minute Jason … ;-)

  46. Jared Brattoli said,

    April 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    ” If the law was never intended to be a means of earning salvation, then Jesus Christ did not earn our salvation by means of law-keeping. Law winds up being grace, and grace winds up being law.”

    Though I havn’t read the book, I’m sure Dr. WIlliams assumes that Christ’s Law keeping earned us salvation. He is probably leaving that fact out because it is so obvious. He is focusing on the fallen man’s role here, not Christ’s, I presume, so there isn’t a need to mention Christ’s relationship to law-keeping in the covenant.

  47. Andy Gilman said,

    April 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Jared said:

    Though I havn’t read the book, I’m sure Dr. WIlliams assumes that Christ’s Law keeping earned us salvation. He is probably leaving that fact out because it is so obvious. He is focusing on the fallen man’s role here, not Christ’s, I presume, so there isn’t a need to mention Christ’s relationship to law-keeping in the covenant.

    While you may be right about Williams’ position (I don’t know enough about him to make a judgment), the problem is that these days it is not safe to assume that a writer believes that “Christ’s law keeping earned us salvation,” especially when the writer is denying that Adam’s law keeping could have earned him “life.” As Meredith Kline pointed out many years ago in his article “Covenant Theology Under Attack,” if you deny any possibility of merit in the first Adam’s obedience, then the logical conclusion you are forced into is that neither was there merit in the second Adam’s obedience. I have personal experience with a PCA pastor, a protege of Norm Shepherd, who came to that very conclusion, despite the clear language of the WCF to the contrary.

    From Kline:

    The ultimate refutation of Fuller’s theology is that it undermines the gospel of grace. All the arguments employed by Fuller and his followers to prove that Adam could not do anything meritorious would apply equally to the case of Jesus, the Second Adam. Thus, the Father was already all-glorious before the Son undertook his messianic mission, and their covenanting with one another took place, of course, within a father-son relationship. Moreover, the parallel which Scripture tells us exists between the two Adams would require the conclusion that if the First Adam could not earn anything, neither could the second. But, if the obedience of Jesus has no meritorious value, the foundation of the gospel is gone. If Jesus’ passive obedience has no merit, there has been no satisfaction made for our sins. If Jesus’ active obedience has no merit, there is no righteous accomplishment to be imputed to us. There is then no justification-glorification for us to receive as a gift of grace by faith alone.

  48. Jared Brattoli said,

    April 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Andy,

    Ok, I see the connection here. I figured it was an obvious assumption, but seeing what he believes about Adam, it appears you are not wrong-headed to assume what he may believe about Christ, and must believe, given a logical and consistent consideration of the parallel.

  49. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Andy,
    How does what Kline said follow? There is a third option, namely if Christ gives to us that which belongs to him by virtue of who he is it is still gracious and still given by faith alone. There is no need to invent a some idea that Christ had to earn salvation for us by law keeping. His death had merit because of who he is and by his suffering of the penalty that we deserved as sinners. The Father was satisfied because the Son offered to him that which equaled his own glory i.e. his own person and because he took our nature he carries us with him. The only condition we have to have all that belongs to Christ is faith.

  50. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    One could argue that if we accept the high Calvinistic idea that Christ merited salvation by law keeping and did so only for the elect and that he did so within the framework of the covenant of works that grace is destroyed because the elect would then receive the benefit ipso facto or by right… not by free grace. But if Christ gives to us that which is his alone by right of who he is and he takes our nature to suffer the penalty of death the only obstacle to our salvation then grace is preserved and displayed gloriously….

  51. todd said,

    April 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Terry,

    The problem is that God’s nature revealed at Eden and Mt. Sinai changes if Christ did not keep the law for us. God requires pefection because he is perfect. Only perfect righteousness can enter his presence without being consumed. That is why the Israelites could not even touch Sinai. It is not enough that Christ die for us, he must also fulfill all righteousness for us, he must be perfect in our place. No hope without it. It was works for Christ – grace for us.

  52. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Christ is the perfect law, Todd. He is perfection and we receive his perfection by faith bestowed by grace… he need not earn something as if it was not already his to give. You are creating a false dilemma. And that’s what Kline is doing as well. His conclusion only follows if u accept his premise.

  53. Andy Gilman said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    If I’m understanding you Terry, you seem to be drawing the logical conclusion which Kline says must follow a denial of the covenant of works, and a denial that Adam could have earned “life” by his obedience. I don’t see where you have presented some “third option.” I’m not sure when the idea that Christ earned salvation for the elect via law keeping was “invented,” but I believe it goes back at least to the apostle Paul, and it is clearly expressed, for example, in the WLC:

    Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?
    A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

    Unless I’m misreading you, you appear to be highlighting my point where I said “…these days it is not safe to assume that a writer believes that ‘Christ’s law keeping earned us salvation’…”

  54. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    One could argue that all that belongs to Christ becomes available to the Adam’s posterity by virtue of the incarnation. The only obstacle to any of Adam’s children is that the justice of must satisfied, the penalty we deserve must be paid. This obstacle is removed in the death of Christ and his resurrection proves that he is who he claims to be and his right given to him by his Father (john chapter 5) give life to whoever he pleases. The only condition any member of Adam’s race need meet is faith alone to have given all that belongs to Christ as the Son. This is what is what the Scripture teaches us in Hebrew 2 for example. Why create an extra unnecessary category?

  55. GLW Johnson said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Terry West
    I don’t think we have met-though you do bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain pastor from Moscow, ID.- from a distance that is. You also look like you’re confused…in your picture.

  56. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    GlW Johnson,
    LOL… that was funny… I been meaning to change that picture for sometime. For one thing I have a lot more gray in my beard now seeing how that picture is about 8 years old. And by the way, when that picture was taken I whole heartily affirmed the covenant of works, ironic huh? LOL
    I have no relation to Moscow ID tho. I live in Heber Springs, AR. I’m a transplant from TN about 9 years ago now. My family and I have recently left the ARP and are currently visiting and Anglican church. I am thoroughly a Calvinist even though you and I would disagree on much. I’ve seen you and interacted with you a couple times on a blog interested in the difference between high and moderate Calvinism a couple years ago.
    Keep those one liners coming tho, brother… that one truly was funny. :-)

  57. stuart said,

    April 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I’m not an expert in these kinds of things, so I’ll apologize ahead of time for my ignorance.

    Does the word “merit” in the Reformed Confessions always refer to something “earned” or that aquires a reward?

    Could not merit (the noun) mean something along the lines of “an act worthy of praise” or “superior quality” without the connotations of something earned?

    I’m not a historian so I don’t know how the term was used during the time of the Reformation.

  58. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    GlW Johnson,
    I just thought of who you remind me of. And I mean this in good natured jest. I’m sure you remember the move trading places with Eddie Murphy? You remind me of the dude that stood behind the other dude talking to Eddie Murphy’s character that keep saying “yeah!” over the other dudes shoulder the way you interact on this blog. Lane gives the argument and you stand behind him and just keep “yeah!” over Lane’s shoulder…. LOL

  59. stuart said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Also, is Kline’s dicotomy as tight as he (and others) seem to think?

    If I understand the point made above (and believe me when I say that I may be grossly misunderstanding this whole issue, so I’m willing to be taught), either both Adam and Christ must earn something by their obeidence in the covenant, or neither earns anything . . . and in Kline’s view the latter pulls the rug out from under the gospel.

    But are those the only options? Christ’s obligation was more than Adam’s in a certain sense because of the fallen nature of the ones he came to save. Adam did not have to die on behalf of anyone. Christ did. Couldn’t this be the “merit” of his obedience?

    In asking this I’m not trying to deny a covenant of works in as far as Adam’s obligation to obey perfectly, personally, and perpetually as part of the covenant. Simply trying to understand.

  60. GLW Johnson said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    ??-sorry I am culturally challenged when it comes to watching chick flicks.

  61. GLW Johnson said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    p.s.
    On the CoW- take take to read John Bolt’s chapter ” Why the Covenant of Works Is a Neccessary Doctrine: Revisiting the Objections to a Venerable Doctrine in the book that I co-edited with Guy Waters, ‘By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification’ (Crossway,2006). Bolt is an expert on Bavinck -who you should read as well on this subject.

  62. David Gray said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    >David, you remind me of the school kid how hides behind someone bigger and sticks his tongue out at people.

    Who am I hiding behind? Certainly not Lane, he hasn’t even answered the very straightforward question I asked at the top.

  63. terry west said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    GLW Johnson,
    I will certainly take a look if I get the chance. But in light of the title of the chapter, one of the reasons I am glad that I am no longer in the Presbyterian church is that you guys especially have created such a long list of “necessary” things that must be affirmed that it is hard to keep track anymore. And I say this with saddness. It is also the reason I never see myself returning to presbyterianism as it is now. Its beginning to boarder on the absurd. If things keep going the way it seems they are I don’t see how a minister is going to be able to function in the environment being created. That’s enough said… just want to share some of my personal thoughts.

  64. GLW Johnson said,

    April 2, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    TW
    Reformed churches that hold to the Westminster Standards have every right to require confessional fidelity . I would recommend Samuel Miller’s ( one of the early professors at Princeton seminary) ‘Doctrinal Integrity: The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions and Adherence to Our Doctrinal Standards’ (rpt.Presbyterian Heritage Publications 1989). An example of what happens when churches don’t enforce their confessional standards Terry is painfully obvious in the present day Anglican church.

  65. terry west said,

    April 3, 2010 at 12:02 am

    GLW Johnson,
    Requiring confessional fidelity is one thing. Making things necessary that are not necessary is quite another. I have no problem with confessional fidelity within reason, but what is being demanded in many instances is a particular interpretation of the confession or things that are not even explicitly in the confession. But its not my problem anymore, so you guys can fight amongst yourselves. May God be glorified in all things.

  66. Andy said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Our church used this book as the basis for a church-wide study a few years ago. Revival broke out. I highly recommend it.

  67. Reed Here said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Interesting Andy. What’s your church?

  68. Andy said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

    First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS. Okay, not really, like my previous comment as well.

  69. GLW Johnson said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:59 am

    TW
    Based on what you alluded too earlier,i.e. the Covenant of works and the imputation of the active obedience of Christ -are you suggesting that these two items constitute “Making things necessary that are not necessary” ? If so, why? Because you don’t particularly like them? I may come across a bit terse with you but since- by your own acknowledgment -you haven’t read the likes of Bavinck on these matters -and I could multiply a great host of significant Reformed theologians like Hodge,Warfield,Berkhof to support my case- your assessment that these doctrines are onerous only reflects your preference for the writings of confessionally questionable fellows like Norman Shepherd and NT Wright.

  70. Reed Here said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Andy: wait a minute, you lied?

    Andy (Jones): having just confirmed this on a different thread,

    Lies are not acceptable behavior for Christians. Please read the email I sent to you privately.

  71. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Terry,

    In comment 49 you wrote:

    There is no need to invent a some idea that Christ had to earn salvation for us by law keeping.

    So it would seem that you believe that when the Westminster Divines distinguished between Christ’s obedience and His satisfaction and said that they are both imputed to believers (WCF 11.1; WLC Q. 70) that they were simply “inventing some idea.”

    I don’t think so.

    In 2 Cor. 5:19, Paul wrote:

    namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them [...]

    [NASB]

    Right in the middle of verse 19 is one of those dreaded commercial terms: λογίζομαι (logizomai), meaning to “reckon,” “count,” “take into account,” or, as we’ve come to know it best, “impute.” This is a passage (2Cor. 5:19-21) that focuses our attention on imputation—both the imputation of our sins to Christ, and His righteousness to us. For in verse 21, Paul wrote:

    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    [NASB]

    As we look closely at the verse we notice that it’s designed to make two parallel statements: one about Christ and one about us. But the parallel is incomplete; there is an obvious ellipsis. In the first part of the parallel, Paul identifies Christ as the one “who knew no sin,” but the second part of the parallel lacks a corresponding statement about us. Should it not identify us as “we who knew no righteousness”?

    Paul probably didn’t think he really needed to say it, since it is, after all, both strongly implied in the immediate context and explicit in Paul’s teaching elsewhere. But the fact is that we need to make sure we understand it as part of Paul’s reasoning in verse 21 if the whole statement is to be logically coherent. So I believe we have the liberty to gloss it into the verse for purposes of commentary, as follows:

    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we who knew no righteousness might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    [NASB]

    Now that we’ve made the parallelism more obvious, we have a couple of problems.

    (1) How can Paul say that God made Christ “to be sin”?
    (2) How can Paul so identify Christians with God’s own personal attribute of righteousness?

    The answer in both cases must be that they are both some kind (undoubtedly the same kind) of figure of speech. It is clear from the broader context of Scripture that when Paul says that God made Christ to be “sin,” that he could not have possibly meant that He made him to be a sinner, let alone literally “sin.” Nor are we, in any literal sense, “the righteousness of God.”

    So then what did Paul mean? The immediate context—viz., v. 19—supplies the answer. In both cases we have something that wasn’t there (He knew no sin; we knew no righteousness), but it was credited or imputed as though it was there. In fact, this imputation is put in such strong terms that Paul actually calls Christ “sin,” and calls us “God’s righteousness.”

    It is also clear that the sin that was imputed to Christ had a source: us. It came from we sinners. This hardly needs to be said explicitly in the immediate context, the truth of it being so abundantly testified to in the rest of Scripture.

    So, according to the logic of Paul’s parallel statement in the second half of v. 21, the righteousness that has been imputed to us must also have had a source. And only one Person can be the source of God’s righteousness for us, namely, Christ. Just as our sins were transferred by imputation from our “account” to His, so also His righteousness was transferred from Him to us.

    But if it’s referred to in general terms as “the righteousness of God,” on what basis do we identify it in specific terms as Christ’s active obedience of keeping the law on our behalf? On the same basis that a perfect man (not a perfect angel, or any other type of being) must provide atonement for our sins. Just as the new federal head needed to be both divine and human to be our perfect mediator, and thus the payment for our sins needed to be wrought in human flesh, so also the righteousness that was credited to us also needed to be wrought in human flesh, through the fulfillment of all righteousness under the law.

    Regarding your comment 50: please see my comment 73 on “Meyers Responds to Letter of Concern to MP.”

  72. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Terry,

    On what do you base your claim that belief in the imputation of Christ’s active obedience is extraneous to the Reformed understanding of Justification?

    When I look at our confessions and formative theologians I see it throughout their treatments of justification, so I’m curious why you view it this way?

  73. stuart said,

    April 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Any takers on the questions raised in #57 and #59? =-)

  74. GLW Johnson said,

    April 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    stuart
    Consult Richard Muller, ‘Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms’ on “meritum Christi” and related terms as well as the entry for ” obedienta Christi”-and NO, Kline’s view does not pull the rug out from under the Gospel-you been confused by the FV on Kline.

  75. stuart said,

    April 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    GLW,

    I’ll check out Richard Muller’s work. Thanks.

    Perhaps I was unclear in my second comment, but I did NOT say that I thought Kline’s view pulls the rug out from under the gospel.

    What I was trying to say is it seems Kline’s view is that anything other than the view that both Adam and Christ must merit something by their obeidence in the covenant pulls the rug out from under the gospel. I apologize if I was unclear.

    And with all due respect (and I really do mean that), I would appreciate it if you would not lump me in with those confused by the FV. I may be confused (I often am), but I can guarantee you my confusion is not because of any FV influence.

    I am not aligned with the FV movement in any way, nor do I have any FV compadres, nor do I spend much time reading FV literature. In fact, I have read more anti-FV materials than pro-FV materials.

    Not everyone who has questions about these issues are FV guys, or guys trying to stir up something. Some of us are folks who happen upon a blog, are intrigued by the discussion, and legitmately want to understand something we see posted.

    Thanks.

  76. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Hi, Stuart,

    I think Calvin again nails this issue when he argues in the Institutes, 2.17.1 entitled, “CHRIST RIGHTLY AND PROPERLY SAID TO HAVE MERITED GRACE AND SALVATION FOR US”

    Calvin speaks specifically to those like the FV (and I’m not lumping you in with them, btw) who revile the term “merit” and shows that there is indeed an important place for God’s grace in Christ’s meriting our salvation, but as in Hebrews he places that grace in the role of applying that obedience to us for salvation, NOT as some do in claiming that grace was shown to Christ to help Him accomplish His task.

    “A question must here be considered by way of supplement. Some men too much given to subtlety, while they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, will not hear of the name of merit, by which they imagine that the grace of God is obscured; and therefore insist that Christ was only the instrument or minister, not the author or leader, or prince of life, as he is designated by Peter” [Inst. 2.17.1].

    So we see that this concern of the FV is certainly not new. But Calvin continues…

    “I admit that were Christ opposed simply, and by himself, to the justice of God, there could be no room for merit, because there cannot be found in man a worth which could make God a debtor…. Therefore when we treat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend to the ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure he appointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us. Hence the merit of Christ is inconsiderately opposed to the mercy of God. It is a well known rule, that principal and accessory are not incompatible, and therefore there is nothing to prevent the justification of man from being the gratuitous result of the mere mercy of God, and, at the same time, to prevent the merit of Christ from intervening in subordination to this mercy. The free favour of God is as fitly opposed to our works as is the obedience of Christ, both in their order: for Christ could not merit anything save by the good pleasure of God, but only inasmuch as he was destined to appease the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and wipe away our transgressions by his obedience: in one word, since the merit of Christ depends entirely on the grace of God (which provided this mode of salvation for us), the latter is no less appropriately opposed to all righteousness of men than is the former.” [2.17.1]

    Calvin even clarifies this further when he argues,

    “That Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied for our sins, if he paid the penalty due by us, if he appeased God by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent to meriting. Now, Paul’s testimony is, that we were reconciled, and received reconciliation through his death (Rom. 5:11). But there is no room for reconciliation unless where offence has preceded. The meaning, therefore, is, that God, to whom we were hateful through sin, was appeased by the death of his Son, and made propitious to us. And the antithesis which immediately follows is carefully to be observed, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” (Rom. 5:19). For the meaning is—As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous. The future tense of the verb does not exclude present righteousness, as is apparent from the context. For he had previously said, “the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” [2.17.3]

    Calvin also obliterates Shepherd’s similar contention that Christ was not meriting our righteousness for us, but rather through His obedience, HE was “credited with righteousness.” Calvin says:

    “To inquire, as Lombard and the Schoolmen do (Sent. Lib. 3 Dist. 18), whether he merited for himself, is foolish curiosity. Equally rash is their decision when they answer in the affirmative. How could it be necessary for the only Son of God to come down in order to acquire some new quality for himself? The exposition which God gives of his own purpose removes all doubt. The Father is not said to have consulted the advantage of his Son in his services, but to have given him up to death, and not spared him, because he loved the world (Rom. 8)… It would otherwise be a cold commendation of love which Paul describes, when he says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8). Hence, again, we infer that Christ had no regard to himself; and this he distinctly affirms, when he says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself,” (John 17:19). He who transfers the benefit of his holiness to others, testifies that he acquires nothing for himself. And surely it is most worthy of remark, that Christ, in devoting himself entirely to our salvation, in a manner forgot himself. It is absurd to wrest the testimony of Paul to a different effect: “Wherefore God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name,” (Phil. 2:9). By what services could a man merit to become the judge of the world, the head of angels, to obtain the supreme government of God, and become the residence of that majesty of which all the virtues of men and angels cannot attain one thousandth part?” [Inst. 2.17.6]

    Sorry this is so long, but it’s all so good.

  77. Brian Kimmel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Tom, I’ve read a lot of these discussions, the FV side doesn’t deny Christ’s merits, they’re challenging the idea that Adam would have merited eschatological life. The real issue is the interpretation of Romans as to whether or not it teaches a strict parallelism of the first and last Adams as federal heads. If that’s not in the text then there’s no rational reason not to argue for the reality of Christ’s merit and the lack of Adam’s merit had he not sinned.

    In fact if you examine the section of the Institutes you quote you’ll notice that it speaks of Christ’s merit entirely in terms of his passive obedience. In this section at least the IAOC is extraneous to justification and salvation.

  78. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Tom,
    Do you think these Calvin quotations support your argument? You’re quite wrong, I’m afraid. They actually indicate how unnecessary it is to speak of “active” obedience. Calvin is affirming here how Christ’s obedient propitiation is all the righteousness we need and is denying that anything else is necessary. Christ didn’t have to earn or merit anything for us that he didn’t already have. Instead, he merited grace on our behalf simply because of who he is and what he was willing to suffer for us.

    I don’t think the IAO is by necessity a harmful concept, but it’s a clumsy add-on that confuses our salvation in Christ. It can lead to a unhelpful separation of Christ’s person and work and can diminish the suffiency of Christ’s propitiation. Yes, Christ’s life redeems our life, and his law-keeping is an obvious part of his life, but separating out his law-keeping for special attention is quite superfluous at best. That’s why it’s better to avoid IAO and why the the Reformed tradition would be better without it.

  79. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Yes, what Brian said, too! Sorry, Brian, I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine.

  80. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Brian,

    In comment 77, you wrote:

    Tom, I’ve read a lot of these discussions, the FV side doesn’t deny Christ’s merits, they’re challenging the idea that Adam would have merited eschatological life.

    Actually, they’re doing a bit more than that. In the FV Joint Statement, under the heading of “Union with Christ and Imputation,” they wrote:

    We deny that faithfulness to the gospel message requires any particular doctrinal formulation of the “imputation of the active obedience of Christ.”

    [Italics theirs.]

    They’re being a bit slippery here, of course. The real issue is not “faithfulness to the gospel message,” but faithfulness to the confessional standards.

    You wrote:

    The real issue is the interpretation of Romans as to whether or not it teaches a strict parallelism of the first and last Adams as federal heads. If that’s not in the text then there’s no rational reason not to argue for the reality of Christ’s merit and the lack of Adam’s merit had he not sinned.

    Support for the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to the elect is found not only in Rom. 5, but also 2 Cor. 5:19-21 (see the discussion above), Jer. 23:6, and 1 Cor. 1:30. Other passages were also cited by the Westminster Divines in support of it.

    You wrote:

    In fact if you examine the section of the Institutes you quote you’ll notice that it speaks of Christ’s merit entirely in terms of his passive obedience. In this section at least the IAOC is extraneous to justification and salvation.

    Well, if you read just a little bit earlier in the Institutes, Calvin’s references to the active obedience of Christ are unambiguous and unmistakable:

    Now someone asks, How has Christ abolished sin, banished the separation between us and God, and acquired righteousness to render God favorable and kindly toward us? To this we can in general reply that he has achieved this for us by the whole course of his obedience. This is proved by Paul’s testimony: “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience we are made righteous” [Romans 5:19]. In another passage, to be sure, Paul extends the basis of the pardon that frees us from the curse of the law to the whole life of Christ: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, subject to the law, to redeem those who were under the law” [Galatians 4:4-5]. Thus in his very baptism, also, he asserted that he fulfilled a part of righteousness in obediently carrying out his Father’s commandment [Matthew 3:15]. In short, from the time when he took on the form of a servant, he began to pay the price of liberation in order to redeem us.

    Yet to define the way of salvation more exactly, Scripture ascribes this as peculiar and proper to Christ’s death. He declares that “he gave his life to redeem many” [Matthew 20:28]. Paul teaches that “Christ died for our sins” [Romans 4:25]. John the Baptist proclaimed that he came “to take away the sins of the world,” for he was “the Lamb of God” [John 1:29]. In another passage Paul teaches that “we are freely justified through the redemption which is in Christ, because he was put forward as a reconciler in his blood” [Romans 3:24-25]. Likewise: “We are …justified by his blood …and reconciled …through his death.” [Romans 5:9-10.] Again: “For our sake he who knew no sin was made sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21] I shall not pursue all the testimonies, for the list would be endless, and many of them will be referred to in their order. For this reason the so-called “Apostles’ Creed” passes at once in the best order from the birth of Christ to his death and resurrection, wherein the whole of perfect salvation consists. Yet the remainder of the obedience that he manifested in his life is not excluded. Paul embraces it all from beginning to end: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant …and was obedient to the Father unto death, even death on a cross”

    [Institutes 2.16.5; Battles 1:507-508. Italics added; HT: Scott Clark.]

  81. Andy Gilman said,

    April 5, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    In #77 Brian said:

    Tom, I’ve read a lot of these discussions, the FV side doesn’t deny Christ’s merits, they’re challenging the idea that Adam would have merited eschatological life. The real issue is the interpretation of Romans as to whether or not it teaches a strict parallelism of the first and last Adams as federal heads. If that’s not in the text then there’s no rational reason not to argue for the reality of Christ’s merit and the lack of Adam’s merit had he not sinned.

    You should read the Rich Lusk and Morton Smith contributions to the Knox Colloquium. This is how Morton Smith ended his paper on “The Biblical Plan of Salvation with Reference to the Covenant of Works, Imputation, and Justification by Faith:”

    Mr. Lusk holds that the Trinity is the basis for our understanding the nature of a covenant. He identifies it as the communion that the three Persons of the Trinity sustain to each other. This is nowhere stated in Scripture. He rejects the idea that a covenant involved a contractual arrangement. He dismisses the idea of Christ’s meriting our salvation, on the ground that He was in covenant with the Father as His Son. There seems to be an ignoring of the servant aspect of the Messianic work.

    Mr. Lusk also rejects the idea of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to believers. This certainly ignores passages of Scripture that speak directly of imputation, and rejects the explicit teaching of the Westminster standards that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and received by faith alone in justification (WCF 11.1, LC 70, SC 33). There seems to be a misunderstanding of the meaning of “impute” as “the reckoning to one’s account.” Mr. Lusk implies that it is the actual conveying of that which is imputed to the individual. This was the Roman Catholic view of justification, namely, that God infused righteousness, which is explicitly denied by the Confession (11.1).

    It is difficult to understand how those holding the position on the covenants and on justification set forth by Mr. Lusk can in any way subscribe to the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as the confession of their faith. As a matter of integrity, any who hold to this view must indicate their difference from the system of doctrine set forth in the Confession and Catechisms. All of those who hold these views, and who are enrolled as ministers of confessional Churches, which adopt the Westminster standards, should make known to their presbyteries their rejection of these major teachings of the standards. Better yet, they would do well to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church, and affiliate with a denomination that teaches their view of the covenants and of justification.

  82. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Manlius,

    For the first paragraph of your comment 78, please refer to my comment 80.

    You also wrote:

    I don’t think the IAO is by necessity a harmful concept, but it’s a clumsy add-on that confuses our salvation in Christ. It can lead to a unhelpful separation of Christ’s person and work and can diminish the suffiency of Christ’s propitiation.

    I’m afraid I can’t see how the IAOC comes anywhere near separating Christ’s person and work. I think the actual confusion lies in the person who would come up with such a notion. Nor does the IAOC even remotely diminish the sufficiency of Christ’s propitiation. In fact, it strengthens our justification. If justification consisted only in what propitiation could provide, we would have forgiveness due to the placating of God’s wrath, and that’s it. In that case, “justification” would effectively move us back to a position of innocence, not positive righteousness before God. We would then have to proceed to build and maintain our own righteousness, as Adam did under the Covenant of Works. This, of course, would be impossible, because after we receive Christ by faith, we still continue to sin. So without IAOC, we would be living in the worst-of-all-possible Arminian (and possibly Pelagian) worlds. But because of IAOC, our righteousness is not only positive in nature, but it is secure and unalterable, because it is “the righteousness of God” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

    You wrote:

    Yes, Christ’s life redeems our life, and his law-keeping is an obvious part of his life, but separating out his law-keeping for special attention is quite superfluous at best. That’s why it’s better to avoid IAO and why the the Reformed tradition would be better without it.

    Calvin didn’t seem to think so. Neither did Turretin (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, T16, Q3; 2:646-656). Neither did Hodge, Bavinck, or Berkhof. No Reformed Theologian worthy of the name thought so.

  83. Andy Gilman said,

    April 5, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    The OPC Report on the doctrine of Justification also talks about the FV position on “merit.” That committee clearly saw the FV as denying merit in Christ’s obedience:

    FV advocates argue that even as Adam before the Fall did not work to merit life but rather simply trusted his Father, Christ as last Adam does not work to merit life for us but simply trusts and obeys his Father, as Adam did not.

  84. stuart said,

    April 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Tom @76,

    Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the Calvin quotes showing he clearly saw Christ as “meriting” our salvation.

    Part of the reason I asked the question about whether the word “merit” in the Reformed Confessions always refers to something “earned” or that aquires a reward is that I was struck by how the word “merit” was used in the Westminster Standards.

    In the WS, the word “merit” (or “merits”) is always used as noun when referring to Christ. The word “merit” is used as a verb when referring to us (that we could not merit grace or eternal life, of course), but the WS do not state that Christ “merited” (use of the verb)anything for us . . . at least not explicitly.

    Now this may be a non-issue, and I’ll admit that . . . but I did think it a bit odd. Thus I raised the question of whether all Reformed folk used the word “merit” the same way. I also wonder if this phenomenon is related to the active and passive righteousness discussions that seem to have been going on for quite some time.

    Personally I have no trouble using the verb “merit” in relation to what Christ did for our salvation. Nor do I a problem with talking about the imputation of his active righteousness to believers (I want to set the record straight on this before I ask my next question). I still wonder, however, if one must hold the view Kline seems to have held in order to uphold those beliefs. Perhaps I am missing something, and I very well may be, but if one holds to John Murray’s position, or O. Palmer Robertson’s, or Michael Williams’ on the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Life/Adamic Adminstration/whatever we want to call it, does that view really and necessarily undermine the doctrine of Christ’s merit of obedience for our salvation?

    Honest question.

  85. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Brian & Manlius

    I think that both of you have treated this response as though it were a response to Terry and not to Stuart. But the quotes from Calvin that I provided in #76 were in reference to Stuart’s questions about the historic Reformed treatment of the concept of merit, and were not intended to be a defense of the Reformed doctrine of the IAOC. There is plenty in Calvin, the confessions, and other theologians that do defend that, but that was not my goal here.

    But just so that I understand you correctly, are you actually proposing that Calvin did NOT affirm the IAOC in justification? You are fighting a hopeless battle if that is your aim.

    In this section Calvin is not even dealing with justification specifically but rather, he is explaining Christ’s role as mediator. So it is quite inaccurate, based on these scant quotations here, to imply that the IAOC is extraneous to Calvin’s doctrine of justification. If you read multitude of passages that he actually devotes to the doctrine of justification you will find a host of references that prove beyond question that he viewed the IAOC as vital to our justification.

    “To be justified in the sight of God, to be justified by faith or by works. A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness… Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ… To justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in Christ.” [Inst. 3.11.2-3]

    But where consciences are worried how to render God favorable, what they will reply, and with what assurance they will stand should they be called to his judgment, there we are not to reckon what the law requires, but Christ alone, who surpasses all perfection of the law, must be set forth as righteousness. [Inst 3.19.2]

    And it’s clear in our confessions too:

    Heidelberg Catechism, Q: 60.
    “How are you righteous before God? A: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, although my conscience accuse me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.”

    However, I do not see how you can claim that there is nothing of the active obedience in what I quoted. It is plainly here:
    “The free favour of God is as fitly opposed to our works as is the obedience of Christ, both in their order: for Christ could not merit anything save by the good pleasure of God, but only inasmuch as he was destined to appease the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and wipe away our transgressions by his obedience.”
    And here:
    “He who transfers the benefit of his holiness to others, testifies that he acquires nothing for himself.”

    So perhaps I could interact with you better if you specify which of my posts you are referring to.

  86. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Tom,
    No one is arguing against the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Does anyone in the FV camp deny it? I don’t think so. As for IAO, that’s another matter entirely, of course. People seem to read that idea into the early Reformers and the Bible. Your reliance on the quotations you cited is a good example of this tendency. There is nothing in the those quotations referring to IAO. Are you sure you’re not seeing active obedience in the imputation of righteousness because you want to see it?

    Calvin did not teach the IAO. More importantly, the Bible doesn’t teach it. I don’t have time to outline all those arguments, but for my view on it, I’ll simply refer you to Daniel Kirk’s double article, “The Sufficiency of the Cross”. He does a much better job of it than I could.

    http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dds7b6jk_1f7fw59hg

    http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dds7b6jk_5hck3fjcw

    Peace

  87. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Manlius,

    Your post is a pristine exhibit of the bald assertion.

    If indeed the Reformers didn’t teach the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, then where/when did such an insidous doctrine arise?

  88. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Manlius,

    In comment 86, you wrote:

    Calvin did not teach the IAO.

    I find this to be an absurd statement in light of the evidence I produced from Institutes 2.16.5 in comment 80.

    You also wrote:

    More importantly, the Bible doesn’t teach it.

    Ditto for the evidence I produced from Scripture in comment 71.

    Failure to interact with the evidence and supporting arguments for positions you oppose is a poor way to support your own position.

  89. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Funny, I thought your post was pure assertion. You put out all these quotations in support of IAO that actually have nothing to do with it. The only thing I claimed about the Reformers and IAO was that Calvin didn’t teach it. I don’t mind being proven wrong, but I believe you’d be searching Calvin’s writings in vain.

    As I said, the most important fact about IAO is that the Bible does not teach it. It’s an extrapolation. I wouldn’t call it in insidious; it’s usually quite innocuous, actually. The doctrine of IAO becomes insidious only when it’s insisted upon as a point of biblical orthodoxy.

  90. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Ron,
    You’re reading IAO into the biblical truth that Christ is our righteousness. You’re doing the same with Calvin, in my opinion. That’s the problem with IAO. To find support for it in the Bible, you have to presuppose it.

  91. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Manlius,

    If you want to actually argue then interact with the quotations I provided and show me where I have misinterpreted Calvin. When I provide quotations, it’s not mere assertion anymore. Calvin and the Heidelberg both say that we are considered “holy”, “innocent”, “righteous” because of what has been imputed to us. Someone paying my penalty doesn’t make me a righteous person. It just makes me a criminal who didn’t have to pay. But if someone has given me the “holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me,” now I am considered to be really and actually righteous. This is what the IAO means.

    If you want to shrink back from real argument then fine. But it’s obvious thus far that people keep giving you evidence that supports their view and you keep refusing to deal with it.

  92. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Manlius,

    Regarding comment 90: I have given specific textual evidence in comment 80 from Calvin to prove my position, and you still fail to interact with it. The relevant portions of the text have even been italicized for your convenience. I have also given specific exegesis of 2 Cor. 5:19 and 21 in comment 71, and you persist in failing to interact with that as well.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but it clearly does not appear to be an opinion that can be equated with a conclusion based on any kind of analysis of all the evidence. It seems to me that you are, in fact, the one clinging to an opinion based solely on a presupposition. I suppose one thing can be said for it: it obviously doesn’t require much work.

  93. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Tom,

    I think the last paragraph of your comment 91 hits the nail on the head. Where do I buy one of these magic wands that I can wave over opposing viewpoints so I don’t have to actually demonstrate why it is wrong and why my position is right?

  94. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    But Tom, you’re quotations have nothing to do with the imputation of active obedience, so how can I interact with them?

    – “Someone paying my penalty doesn’t make me a righteous person.”
    Right, that’s why there’s the doctrine of sanctification. That’s why we are united to the Christ who pays our penalty. It’s not like some bare transaction is made and then we’re done with it.

    – “But if someone has given me the ‘holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me.
    Christ fulfills the obedience by dying on the cross. Nothing about IAO there unless you want to see it.

    At best, IAO is just plain unnecessary since we get those same benefits by our union with Christ. IAO should be a relic of our scholastic past. It just doesn’t pull its weight as a biblical doctrine.

    As for shrinking back from the argument, I hardly think I’ve done that. I keep making the point that you’re reading IAO into Scripture and some of the Reformation material, and you never seem to address that. Why don’t you find me a couple of biblical passages supporting IAO and we can talk about that?

  95. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    oops – should say “your quotations”, not “you’re quotations.”

    Ron and Tom,
    You keep saying I’m not interacting, but I keep making points that you’re not addressing. That’s why this is a conversation, right? Let’s be patient with each other and iron things out. You guys seem to like to bully more than find understanding.

  96. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Manlius,

    I keep making the point that you’re reading IAO into Scripture and some of the Reformation material, and you never seem to address that. Why don’t you find me a couple of biblical passages supporting IAO and we can talk about that?

    To repeat (for what—the third time now?): for Reformation material, please interact with my comment 80; for a biblical passage, please interact with my comment 71.

  97. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Manlius,

    You wrote:

    You keep saying I’m not interacting, but I keep making points that you’re not addressing. [...] You guys seem to like to bully more than find understanding.

    When it comes to the immediate issue that I have been addressing with you, the only points I’ve seen you make pretty much amount to:

    1) IAOC is not in the Reformers, and
    2) IAOC is not in Scripture.

    You’ve also impugned the doctrine of IAOC in various ways, and I addressed them in comment 82. But these two points seem to be your main “points” that you say we’re not addressing.

    I frankly think you’re misrepresenting us. I, for one, keep asking you to interact with the arguments I provided in comments 71 and 80, and now you’re accusing us of bullying you?

  98. Tom Wenger said,

    April 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Manlius,

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of you agreement with Trent when you say,
    ““Someone paying my penalty doesn’t make me a righteous person.’ Right, that’s why there’s the doctrine of sanctification.”

    What you have argued here, whether you intended to or not, is that a person’s holiness before God is a product of their sanctification and not their justification. You have continually avoided interacting with the word “holiness” in Calvin and the Heidelberg and it is one of the many ways that illustrate what they believe is imputed from Christ. We get His holiness, His innocence, and THAT is what comprises His active obedience.

    According to what you stated above, we will be acceptable before God because of some degree of our effort. But that is, of course, part and parcel of the FV scheme so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    And your clamoring for biblical passages is a red herring. The original question was whether or not I interpreted Calvin and the Heidelberg properly. What do those sources mean when they say that we have been given Christ’s innocence and holiness?

    This is what you continue to avoid.

  99. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    “What you have argued here, whether you intended to or not, is that a person’s holiness before God is a product of their sanctification and not their justification.”
    – Well, it’s both, isn’t it? We’re declared righteous because of our union in Christ’s death and resurrection, and we’re made righteous made that same union.

    “According to what you stated above, we will be acceptable before God because of some degree of our effort.”
    – Yes, our effort is involved. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Of course, we don’t earn anything, since it is God who works through us and gets ALL the glory.

    “But that is, of course, part and parcel of the FV scheme so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
    – I’m not FV, so I can’t speak for those guys. Our effort is part of the biblical scheme, though, so if that’s what they’re saying, they’re right on that point.

    “And your clamoring for biblical passages is a red herring.”
    – Clamoring, eh? Thanks for the condescending tone. Should I return it in kind? Here goes: sorry for wanting to bring the Bible into this.

    “The original question was whether or not I interpreted Calvin and the Heidelberg properly. What do those sources mean when they say that we have been given Christ’s innocence and holiness?”
    – I think they mean that Christ died for the ungodly.

  100. Manlius said,

    April 5, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Ron,
    You’re assuming that any reference to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is also a reference to IAOC. That’s what I’m disputing. Please try to demonstrate the connection, and then I can proceed to either accept it or try to refute it.

  101. Ron Henzel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Manlius,

    Regarding comment 100: the italicized portions in the Calvin citations in comment 80 should be sufficient to show that it is the active rather than the passive righteousness of Christ that is in view. And as far as my argument in comment 71 regarding 2 Cor. 5:19 and 21 is concerned: it should be obvious that “the righteousness of God” that was imputed from Christ to us cannot be limited to His passive righteousness.

  102. Brian Kimmel said,

    April 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Tom, in comment 84 where you quote Calvin and Heidelberg you are missing the point that innocence and righteousness are treated as equivalents. Particularly in 3.11.2 you misread Calvin. He makes it absolutely clear that justification by works is all or nothing and that innocence is equivalent to righteousness.

    “As an innocent man, when charged before an impartial judge, who decides according to his innocence, is said to be justified by the judge, as a man is said to be justified by God when, removed from the catalogue of sinners, he has God as the witness and assertor of his righteousness.”

    Ron, I don’t see your comment 80, it may have been renumbered or caught in a spam filter. But in 2.16.5 Calvin asserts the imputation of Christ’s whole obedience but there is no ground to say that he treated the active obedience as as distinct act which accomplishes something Christ’s blood can not. In fact his emphasis is on the death of Christ which is clearly the most consistent with scripture.

  103. davejes1979 said,

    April 6, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Ron, I just approved your post, it got stuck in the spam filter.

  104. Manlius said,

    April 6, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Ron,
    I now see the comment 80 you were referring to and why you were frustrated with me since you didn’t know I couldn’t see it. Believe me, I was quite confused! I’m truly sorry the spam filter caused a misunderstanding between us. No hard feelings, I hope.

    So yes, those quotations do seem to support IAOC, but only if you’re coming to them from that perspective. I do not deny that Jesus, in his obedience unto death, demonstrated his obedience from the incarnation on. This incarnate obedience was, in fact, a reflection of his eternal submission to the Father. He was obedient as the God-Man, and as the God-Man, he obediently submitted even to death on a cross. I agree that we shouldn’t disconnect his suffering from the whole of his obedient humiliation. The question, though, is whether or not we should conclude that his active obedience to the law is imputed to us. The Bible does not speak this way, and I don’t believe that’s what Calvin actually has in mind either. Calvin is affirming what we should all affirm, namely, that Christ the suffering servant is also the obedient servant. As the blameless (justified) one, Christ could justify us.

    One of the church fathers (I don’t remember who) said that our life is redeemed by Christ’s life. In his infancy he redeemed our infancy, in his childhood our childhood, etc. Something like that. I don’t have a problem with this. It’s not like we can divide Christ up like that. That wouldn’t make sense. (So we agree on what is most essential here.) But what we should also affirm is the sufficiency of the cross and the necessity of our obedience. The cross removes the curse of the law. We are truly justified. Our sins are atoned for by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. This righteousness that justifies us is totally alien! (I’m sure we agree on that at least!) But (and here’s where you might differ? or do you?) our obedience is not totally alien. It’s not totally our own either, of course, because we obey IN CHRIST and by the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our justification is monergistic but our sanctification is synergistic. Paul is clearly comfortable with the language of synergism at this point, so we should be too. Of course, in both the monergistic or synergistic aspects, God is the source of it all and gets ALL the credit and glory!

    In conclusion, then, the IAOC in its worst expressions (like I said before, most of the time it’s pretty harmless because it’s just meant to reinforce Christ’s saving righteousness) can diminish the sufficiency of the cross and downplay Christ’s command that we show our love by keeping his commandments.

  105. Manlius said,

    April 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Btw, I’m not denying definitive sanctification in the previous post. Since I see union with Christ at the hub of everything anyway, there’s an eschatological sense in which we share in all the benefits of Christ even now.

  106. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Rom 5:18 actually argues against IAOC:
    “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.”

    The key term is dikaioma, translated in the NRSV as “act of righteousness.” Here Paul is clearly referring to Christ’s death as the act that secured life for all. This argument is contextually grounded. The parallels in Rom 5:12-21 are very carefully constructed.

    First, in v.12, Paul says: “sin came into the world through one man.” Why does he not say “Adam”? The singularity of Adam and the singularity of the Second Adam is integral to his argument (“one” occurs 12 times in the passage). This, of course, is purposely contrasted to the “many.” The point is: the ONE sin of the ONE man brought death to the MANY, but the ONE act of righteousness of the ONE man brought life to the MANY.

    Basically, if IAOC was important to Paul, v.18 would have to read “dikaisune” (the “righteousness of the one”) instead of “dikaioma” (“righteous act”).

    As for 2 Cor 5:21, Ron gives a fine exegesis, but it is stretching the text to say that IAOC is required here. No one in this debate denies that we need Christ’s righteousness credited to our account. That’s what 2 Cor 5:21 is about: we are sinners who in Christ have become the righteousness of God. What is dubious, to me, is that Christ’s earthly obedience to the Mosaic code is credited to me. Jesus lived in a different age; he lived under the regulations of the Old Covenant and lived it perfectly. Is obedience to the Mosaic covenant credited to new covenant believers? The Bible does not teach this. Rather, new covenant believers live under the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). We fulfill the just requirement of the law by the indwelling Spirit (Rom 8:3-4). The fact that Jesus did not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk is very good, but hardly imputed to my account. What is imputed to me is his righteousness, won for me in his death and resurrection.

    I would also agree with Manlius that Calvin is being quoted out of context. Ron (comment 80), you did not italicize this in Inst. 2.16.5: “Yet to define the way of salvation more exactly, Scripture ascribes this as peculiar and proper to Christ’s death.” Furthermore the portions you do italicize aren’t clearly referring to IAOC. I will quote them here:

    “In short, from the time when he took on the form of a servant, he began to pay the price of liberation in order to redeem us.” Calvin is speaking of “paying the price.” This clearly refers to Christ’s life of suffering, what is traditionally known as his “passive obedience.” The HC agrees with Calvin here, Q&A 37: “What do you confess when you say that he suffered? During all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.” To say that Christ paid the price for us throughout his life is not the same as saying that his obedience to the Mosaic code must be credited to us.

    The second italicized portion I quote again in context, putting my italics in it:

    “For this reason the so-called “Apostles’ Creed” passes at once in the best order from the birth of Christ to his death and resurrection, wherein the whole of perfect salvation consists. Yet the remainder of the obedience that he manifested in his life is not excluded. Paul embraces it all from beginning to end: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant …and was obedient to the Father unto death, even death on a cross.”

    How you could read this as an argument for the IAOC is beyond my comprehension. Paul quotes from Phil 2, which speaks of Christ’s self-emptying humility, it is the great hymn of Christ’s descent and glorification. So when Calvin says that Paul embraces Christ’s obedience from beginning to end, he is referring to the fact that Christ suffered the wrath of God for us throughout his entire life (as the HC teaches). This is what you would consider his “passive obedience.”

    One can hold to the IAOC-it’s true to a point-but I consider theologically more faithful to view Jesus’ life typologically. He is the new Adam who withstands the temptation of the devil (Mt 4). He is the new Israel and new Moses who comes out of Egypt, goes through a baptism, spends time in the wilderness, gives a law to his disciples (Mt 2-7). When we see that Adam and Israel’s history is recapitulated in Jesus, except that Jesus is faithful to the will of the Father, we will see that God’s covenant purposes have been realized in him. He has been vindicated as the Second Adam and as the faithful Israelite by his resurrection, and so has poured out his Spirit upon all nations. We now are incorporated into him, and share in what he has won for us.

    Insisting on IAOC seems to overlook the eschatological change brought about by Easter. We have been ushered into a new world; it would no longer make sense to attempt to apply righteousness from the old era to our account.

    Those are my thoughts. Blessings.

  107. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Typo: after the second quote from Calvin, I say “Paul quotes from Phil 2.” That should, of course, say “Calvin quotes from Phil 2.” Whether Paul is quoting in this passage is a matter of scholarly debate! :)

  108. Vern Crisler said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    #106
    David, did death come upon all men because of Adam’s death, or because of his sin?

  109. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Vern: the sin-death connection is plain as day in v.12. Obviously, death came upon all men because Adam sinned. No one is disputing that. No one is disputing that life came to all men because Christ was righteous, either. It’s the specific formulation – how that righteousness works – that is at issue.

  110. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

    But Vern, maybe you didn’t read 106 carefully, where I said: “the ONE sin of the ONE man brought death to the MANY, but the ONE act of righteousness of the ONE man brought life to the MANY.”

  111. Ron Henzel said,

    April 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Manlius,

    You wrote:

    I now see the comment 80 you were referring to and why you were frustrated with me since you didn’t know I couldn’t see it. Believe me, I was quite confused! I’m truly sorry the spam filter caused a misunderstanding between us. No hard feelings, I hope.

    No hard feelings whatsoever. I can see how this happened, and I totally understand.

    You wrote:

    So yes, those quotations do seem to support IAOC, but only if you’re coming to them from that perspective.

    I don’t think you’re reading Calvin closely enough here. I think you need to weigh carefully the first italicized statement in the citation provided, where Calvin wrote:

    In another passage, to be sure, Paul extends the basis of the pardon that frees us from the curse of the law to the whole life of Christ…

    According to Calvin, essential to the very basis of our liberation from the condemnation of the law and our justification (see his reference to Rom. 5:19 in the sentence immediately preceding) is “the whole life of Christ.” In the context of Calvin’s broader theology, this could only be accomplished by imputation, given the central position imputation holds in his soteriology.

    You wrote:

    I do not deny that Jesus, in his obedience unto death, demonstrated his obedience from the incarnation on. This incarnate obedience was, in fact, a reflection of his eternal submission to the Father. He was obedient as the God-Man, and as the God-Man, he obediently submitted even to death on a cross. I agree that we shouldn’t disconnect his suffering from the whole of his obedient humiliation.

    And Calvin would surely agree with you on this point as well. But it’s pretty clear that this was not his topic in the passage cited. His topic was how Christ’s whole life of obedience is counted as part of our actual redemption price. This is pretty hard to miss. Calvin wrote:

    In short, from the time when he took on the form of a servant, he began to pay the price of liberation in order to redeem us.

    You wrote:

    The question, though, is whether or not we should conclude that his active obedience to the law is imputed to us. The Bible does not speak this way, and I don’t believe that’s what Calvin actually has in mind either. Calvin is affirming what we should all affirm, namely, that Christ the suffering servant is also the obedient servant. As the blameless (justified) one, Christ could justify us.

    I think you’re clearly overlooking Calvin’s specific wording. According to Calvin, Christ’s life of obedience did not merely qualify Him to be our Savior, but instead it forms no small part of the basis of our justification and it is counted as part of the actual price of our overall redemption. I can’t think of any way the Calvin could have put the matter more strongly or more clearly.

    You wrote:

    One of the church fathers (I don’t remember who) said that our life is redeemed by Christ’s life. In his infancy he redeemed our infancy, in his childhood our childhood, etc. Something like that. I don’t have a problem with this. It’s not like we can divide Christ up like that. That wouldn’t make sense. (So we agree on what is most essential here.)

    Since you’re not supplying the actual reference from the church father in question, it’s hard to know exactly what he meant by “redeemed.” Many people who speak this way are simply saying that Christ somehow sanctified or displayed God’s approval for the normal course of human life by living a human life himself. Calvin is obviously saying much more than that.

    You wrote:

    But what we should also affirm is the sufficiency of the cross and the necessity of our obedience.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “the necessity of our obedience” here, but I notice that you keep on referring to the sufficiency of the cross in such a way as to imply that the imputation of Christ’s active obedience as the ground of our justification somehow diminishes that sufficiency. This makes no sense, since there is no way to actually separate Christ’s active obedience (fulfilling the Covenant of Works) from His passive obedience (fulfilling the Covenant of Grace) without utterly destroying the Gospel itself. The ultimate question here is not the sufficiency of the cross, because the only reason we can even speak in those terms is because it is Christ’s cross. The ultimate question, then, is the sufficiency of Christ (solus Christus).

    All the blessings of salvation that we receive in our union with Christ—forgiveness, justification, adoption, sanctification, and so on—we receive because of what He did on the cross. Forgiveness is secured by the propitiatory aspect of Christ’s death, but it is applied to us on the basis of our union with Christ. Likewise, imputation is a subset of justification—the act of declaring us “righteous”—which is also applied to us on the basis of our union with Christ. The ground of our forgiveness is propitiation, but, “the ground of justification can be found only in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to the sinner in justification” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1938; 1996], 523). So it appears to me that it is actually those who deny IAOC who diminish the salvation that Christ secured on the cross, since they remove the ground of justification from it.

    You wrote:

    The cross removes the curse of the law. We are truly justified. Our sins are atoned for by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

    I find your third sentence here exceedingly confusing. The only way I can remotely make any sense of this is if you’re limiting “Christ’s righteousness” here to his passive righteousness, but even then it’s far more accurate to say that His passive righteousness (which involved the imputation of our sins to Christ) secured the propitiation for our sins, which was the essence of His atonement, which in turn secured our forgiveness. Thus rather than having a situation in which atonement is accomplished by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (an odd notion, indeed, although that’s the way you put it), atonement must precede that imputation. Our sins are not atoned for by that kind of imputation because any imputation from Christ to the sinner is an application of the atonement. Meanwhile, even though the atonement (carried out through the passive righteousness of Christ) required His active righteousness to be acceptable, that passive righteousness did not supply a ground for declaring us righteous, because its function was to remove sin and wrath.

    You wrote:

    This righteousness that justifies us is totally alien! (I’m sure we agree on that at least!) But (and here’s where you might differ? or do you?) our obedience is not totally alien.

    I heartily concur that the righteousness that justifies is totally alien, but what bearing does our obedience have on this discussion?

    You wrote:

    It’s not totally our own either, of course, because we obey IN CHRIST and by the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our justification is monergistic but our sanctification is synergistic. Paul is clearly comfortable with the language of synergism at this point, so we should be too. Of course, in both the monergistic or synergistic aspects, God is the source of it all and gets ALL the credit and glory!

    I have no idea why you’ve intruded the topic of sanctification into this discussion.

    You wrote:

    In conclusion, then, the IAOC in its worst expressions (like I said before, most of the time it’s pretty harmless because it’s just meant to reinforce Christ’s saving righteousness) can diminish the sufficiency of the cross and downplay Christ’s command that we show our love by keeping his commandments.

    What do you mean by “the IAOC in its worst expressions”? To whom or what are you specifically referring? Whatever these “worst expressions” are, are you implying that they lead to antinomianism—a very old charge indeed, against which Turretin defended the IAOC in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 16.3.10/2:649. Is this why you injected sanctification into the discussion?

  112. Tom Wenger said,

    April 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    David,

    This verse may be the most crucial in the entire pericope and it is so often misconstrued. Paul finally explains the basis upon which both his vindication of God’s justice is demonstrated as well as our hope. By beginning with “Ara” he indicates this aspect of summary and clarification because he has been building to this since 5:12, and restates what he began there. However there are some significant translational issues that have to be solved in order to get to the resolution of his argument.

    First, properly interpreting the gender of `enos is essential to grasping the crux of Paul’s argument. This is not to say that everything hangs on the gender of `enos but rather that a proper rendering makes his argument much more intelligible. Since both the masculine singular and neuter singular forms are identical, it is left to the context to shed light on which option to choose. Those, like you, who choose the neuter form thus render the passage as comparing “one sin” with “one act (of righteousness)”; the NKJ and NRSV opt for the masculine, thus comparing “one man’s sin” with “one man’s righteousness.”This interpretation is defended by Cranfield, Moo, Schreiner and Hodge. (Interestingly enough, though Murray and Piper both favor the neuter rendering they vociferously uphold that this passage teaches the IAO).

    The difference that this makes is significant. Many who favor the neuter rendering often do so to prove that only Christ’s passive obedience can be imputed to the believer because it is merely one act (in their case his dying) with which we are credited. (this is Shepherd’s and Gundry’s tactic). On the other hand, those who favor the masculine reading see the fact that it makes more sense with the context of the entire pericope where Paul has been primarily comparing the one man Adam with the one man Christ.

    Though not all the occurrences of `enos in this pericope are masculine, the majority of them are. As Cranfield explains, “Since `enos is masculine in its three occurrences in v.17 and also in its two occurrences in v.19, and since the whole subsection is concerned with the relation of the one man Adam and one Man Christ to the many, while apart from v.16b… it is surely better to take `enos here as masculine.” Schrenk goes so far as to say that, “ `enos which elsewhere in vv.12-19 – ten times apart from v.18, and in every case with incontestable reference to Adam and Christ – is always masc., and is best related here, too, to Adam and Christ, so that in 18b as well, the reference is to the right action or conduct of Christ.” (TDNT, 2.221) Indeed placing this verse in light of the context of Paul’s argument, begun in v.12, the whole premise commenced with: “Therefore, just as through ONE MAN sin came into the world”. Paul did not say “through one sin…” His focus since the beginning has been the one man Adam and the one man Christ.

    Thus here in 5:18, Paul begins his statement by saying that “Therefore just as through the one man’s sin (paraptoma), condemnation [came to] all men…” The verb here must be inferred just as in 15a and 16a. Here in v.18 Paul contrasts dikaiomatos with paraptomatos. It would not make sense for Paul to say “Therefore just as through the one man’s sin, condemnation (came to) all men, so also through one man’s justification, justification came to all.” Rather it makes far more sense, from a contextual standpoint, to say that while the first Adam’s sin brought condemnation for all, the Second Adam’s righteousness resulted in justification for all. This squares with the broader context as well; for Paul previously described the gift as a gift of righteousness (not justification) and then in v.19 compares dikaiomatos with hupakoe.

    The lexical evidence favors this view even more. As I mentioned already, Schrenk not only asserted that the di `enos construction pointed to dikaiomatos meaning, “the right action or conduct of Christ”, but goes on to say, that in v. 18, Paul’s preceding arguments concerning Christ’s righteousness are all “gathered up in the single statement that His total life is dikaiowma, i.e., a perfect fulfillment of the divine requirement.” (TDNT, 2.222) Thus on this basis, Cranfield can say “by Christ’s dikaiowma, Paul means not just His atoning death, but the obedience of His life as a whole, His loving God with all His heart and soul and mind and strength, and His neighbour with complete sincerity, which is the righteous conduct which God’s law requires.” (Romans, 289) And similarly, Schreiner agrees that “it is most natural to see a reference to Christ’s righteous conduct.” (Romans, 287)

    Thus, in light of this, it only makes sense to conclude that the gift of righteousness that Paul has been alluding to is now is now shown to be the righteous conduct of the “one man”, Jesus Christ, and it makes no sense to view it as a simple reference to His death.

  113. Tom Wenger said,

    April 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Brian,

    re. #102 I’m not missing that point, that IS my point. They are equivalents, which means that you need to expand your definition of righteousness to fit more than simply the passive obedience of Christ. That makes nothing innocent or holy. It simply takes away wrath.

    How can you have a definition of righteousness that excludes any and all notions of law-keeping?

  114. Roger Mann said,

    April 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    It seems to me that the quality of Christ’s imputed “righteousness” is plainly defined by the very nature of the moral law: “The man who does those things shall live by them” (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12); and “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Galatians 3:10). If Christ became a “curse” for us by His “passive obedience” to the moral law on the Cross (Galatians 3:13), then it must have been His “active obedience” to the moral law that fulfilled the “righteousness” of the law per Romans 10:5. Therefore, without the imputation of Christ’s “active obedience” to the moral law, we could not be reckoned to have perfectly obeyed the precepts of the moral law in God’s sight, and we could not have eternal life granted to us. Remember, Scripture plainly states: “The man who does those things shall live by them” (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12).

  115. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Roger, you’re starting to talk systematic theology now! Be careful, that might make those idiosyncratic union-model, IAOC-deniers’ heads explode.

  116. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Roger 114: I’m not sure where you get the idea in Rom 10:5 that it is Christ’s obedience that is at issue.

  117. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    115, “IAOC deniers.”

    I believe it was no less a divine than John Owen who said:
    1) Godly theologians differ on IAOC.
    2) Though he personally held to it, he would not make it a cause of division.

    There were men at the Westminster assembly who did not hold to IAOC (see Letham’s account).

  118. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    There may have been an excuse for ‘godly’ theolgians 400 years ago. Not now.

  119. David deJong said,

    April 6, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    118. And no doubt Owen, were he alive today, would agree with you. After all, much has been written in the past 400 years that shows how partial and incomplete was the knowledge of the Westminster divines. We have much greater certainty now than they ever did.

  120. Roger Mann said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    116. David deJong wrote,

    I’m not sure where you get the idea in Rom 10:5 that it is Christ’s obedience that is at issue.

    David Gadbois was right… I made your head explode. It’s not too difficult to understand. Eternal life/righteousness is merited by perfectly obeying the moral law (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 10:5). Scripture says that Christ was “born under the law” (Galatians 4:4) in order to redeem us from the curse of the law. Therefore, Jesus must have merited eternal life/righteousness for us by perfectly obeying the precepts of the moral law in our stead. Thus, without the imputation of Christ’s “active obedience” to the moral law, we could not be reckoned to have perfectly obeyed the precepts of the moral law in God’s sight, and we could not have eternal life granted to us. As I mentioned before, Scripture plainly states: “The man who does those things shall live by them” (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12).

  121. David deJong said,

    April 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Tom, 112. Nice discussion.

    I agree that enos is ambiguous and not enough for my case. However, I think the use of dikaioma (“act of righteousness”) is a compelling argument that here Paul views Christ’s sacrifice as that act by which we are justified. If Paul were speaking about Christ’s entire life, he should have used dikaiosune. See the NRSV, NIV, NASB, ESV, NET, NKJV: all translate this word as “righteous act.”

    I think Cranfield and Schrenk are begging the question. In context, what is Christ’s righteous act by which we are justified? See Rom 3:21-26, and especially 4:25: “He was delivered over to death for our sins, and raised to life for our justification.” It is because Paul’s thought is so rigorously eschatological – Easter is the dawn of the new creation, the death and resurrection of the Son of God has fundamentally changed everything – that Christ’s obedience to the Mosaic law (while important in qualifying him to be our representative, Gal 4:4) cannot precisely be said to be imputed to us.

  122. Andy Gilman said,

    April 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    The OPC Report on justification takes up the question of the active obedience of Christ beginning on page 39, and specifically addresses Romans 5:16-19 beginning on page 42. Maybe David deJong, Brian Kimmel or Manlius could interact with that report and tell us where the OPC went wrong in its analysis. The report can be found here: http://www.opc.org/GA/JustificationBook.pdf

  123. Tom Wenger said,

    April 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    David,

    I appreciate your response here. The Scriptures use multiple descriptions of Christ’s work for us, often encapsulating all of his work in one aspect of it, but they do not by such description, demand a rigidly literalistic interpretation of them. In Rom 5:18 it’s clear that Paul cannot be limiting righteousness to one literal act, for reasons beyond the argument I gave above. For instance, if it were simply the one literal act of His death, that would even preclude the resurrection mentioned in 4:25. So it needs to be interpreted more broadly to fit so much of the Bible’s discussion elsewhere: that righteousness for us is essentially comprised of law-keeping and as such, we should interpret the gift of righteousness in this passage as consisting of Christ’s law-keeping.

    Just listen to Calvin as he unpacks the obedience of the one man in 5:19 which is clearly a synonym for the righteousness described throughout this passage. It consists of the law-keeping that he accomplished for us because we are unable:

    “It then follows, that righteousness is in Christ, and that it is to be received by us as what peculiarly belongs to him. He at the same time shows what sort of righteousness it is, by calling it obedience. And here let us especially observe what we must bring into God’s presence, if we seek to be justified by works, even obedience to the law, not to this or to that part, but in every respect perfect; for when a just man falls, all his former righteousness will not be remembered. We may also hence learn, how false are the schemes which they take to pacify God, who of themselves devise what they obtrude on him. For then only we truly worship him when we follow what he has commanded us, and render obedience to his word. Away then with those who confidently lay claim to the righteousness of works, which cannot otherwise exist than when there is a full and complete observance of the law; and it is certain that this is nowhere to be found.” [Calvin, Commentary on Rom 5:19]

  124. Reed Here said,

    April 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Tom, no.123: o.k. dude, you’re causing me some embarassment by not identifying yourself as a junior. :-)

    I ran into your father here at Twin Lakes and talked with him about his posts on GB. His stare told me he had no idea what I was talking about. Then he told me a bout junior, someone apparently much smarter than him.

    He says hi.

  125. Tom Wenger said,

    April 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Oops,

    Sorry about that, Reed. :-)

    But you should confront him about bearing false witness in his description of me.

    Sincerely, TW JR

  126. David deJong said,

    April 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Andy, 122. Thanks for the link to the report. Interesting read. I find myself largely in agreement. For example, I agree that:
    1) Christ was obedient throughout his life, and that this obedience culminated in the cross.
    2) The designations of “active” and “passive” obedience are therefore somewhat misleading, since as the Report rightly states, Christ’s submission to the will of the Father in going to the cross was “active” in every way.

    Those of us who question the IAOC are actually questioning something much more specific than this report really addresses. We are questioning we are to conceive of our justification in such a way that Christ’s death brings us back to neutrality and his obedience to the law supplies our actual righteousness (our “credits”). The report rightly deals with Christ’s obedience (see the fine discussion of Phil 2) but its affirmations of active obedience are general enough to be affirmations I would be happy to make.

    Does the report specifically claim that the righteousness Christ “earned” under the Mosaic law, in his life, is our positive righteousness? Maybe I didn’t read it closely enough, and you can show me the reference.

  127. David deJong said,

    April 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Typo: insert a “whether” after “questioning,” second sentence of second paragraph.

    Tom, 123: I may be parsing things out a little too precisely but Calvin does not specifically say that Christ’s obedience to the Mosaic Law is credited to us in the quote you provided.

    One thing that Calvin did say, however, got my attention: “For then only we truly worship him when we follow what he has commanded us, and render obedience to his word.

    Flag on the play! Law-gospel confusion! And in a discussion of the impossibility of the righteousness by works at that…Greenbaggins will not be pleased. :)

  128. April 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Tom,

    Great posts.

    And just between you and me, thanks for privately sharing your concerns about your son, Tom Jr. I realize he’s got a lot of growing up to do, but really, calling him a “‘tard” in your recent email was a bit harsh, don’t you think? I mean, is he a bit slow? Sure. But he tries really hard, and that’s gotta count for something (think “Corky” from Life Goes On and you’ll get my point).

    Anyway, I’ll keep trying to disciple him on your behalf. And as always, let’s keep this between us….

    Jason

    PS – Just to clarify, no one else can read this besides you and me, right?

  129. David Gray said,

    April 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I’m assuming that isn’t actually Pastor Stellman?

  130. April 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Just a little inside joke there. Carry on….

  131. Reed Here said,

    April 7, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Just look at the dome in his avatar – you’ll recognize him just fine. :-)

  132. April 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Takes a handsome shaved-headed man to know one….

  133. David Gray said,

    April 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    I do like the fine Genevan gown.

  134. Andy Gilman said,

    April 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    In #126 David said:

    Those of us who question the IAOC are actually questioning something much more specific than this report really addresses. We are questioning [whether] we are to conceive of our justification in such a way that Christ’s death brings us back to neutrality and his obedience to the law supplies our actual righteousness (our “credits”). The report rightly deals with Christ’s obedience (see the fine discussion of Phil 2) but its affirmations of active obedience are general enough to be affirmations I would be happy to make.

    Does the report specifically claim that the righteousness Christ “earned” under the Mosaic law, in his life, is our positive righteousness? Maybe I didn’t read it closely enough, and you can show me the reference.

    I started you looking on page 39 of the OPC report, but page 35 would have been a been a better starting point. The emphasis is mine. On page 37 the report says:

    And some within FV and other Reformed circles, such as Rich Lusk, James Jordan, Norman Shepherd, and Andrew Sandlin, have critiqued this doctrine. These writers affirm active obedience only in the sense that Christ’s sinless adherence to the law qualifies him to be the spotless sacrifice for sin.

    In the light of such contemporary challenges, the church must reaffirm its commitment to both the passive and the active obedience of Christ, who was made under the law for our salvation. His bearing the curse of the law truly satisfied divine justice as a punishment for our sin, and his obeying the requirements of the law truly merited our acceptance before God. “This office [of mediator and surety] the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it…. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven” (WCF 8.4–5). Reformed theologians and confessional standards from Calvin to the present day have professed this doctrine as central to the gospel.

    And on page 45:

    God required of Adam a perfect obedience, tested over time, not only the original righteousness and moral guiltlessness in which he was created. Adam was born righteous and continued in that state for a time, but God required a course of obedience to his law, the passing of a probationary test, for Adam to attain to a state of irreversible judicial approbation and eschatological life. If Christ indeed came as the Second Adam, to succeed where Adam failed, and brought in much more than Adam lost, then simply seeing passive obedience in 5:18 and surrounding verses seems radically insufficient. Christ’s passive obedience brings forgiveness, resulting in a condition of moral guiltlessness. But that was not enough for justification resulting in eschatological life.

    And on page 48:

    Christ, as the Second Adam, and therefore as a true human being, fulfills for his people the general human requirement for this perfect obedience. He has left us not in a state of moral guiltlessness and untested and unconfirmed righteousness like Adam before the Fall, nor does he give us simply that with which God is unsatisfied (sacrifice), but provides that true obedience to God’s will, that love of God and neighbor in summary of the law, which found its greatest evidence and climax in his going down to death.

    Thus, various streams of biblical teaching come together in the doctrine of active obedience. Paul associates the obedience of Christ with the righteousness of God that justifies. A true human obedience is rendered by the one called the Second Adam, satisfying the requirement of obedience discussed at length above. Yet this obedience is also the righteousness of God, being offered by the God-man. God’s righteousness in general undoubtedly conveys more than simply Christ’s obedience during his earthly ministry. In the context of justification, however, that divine righteousness is expressed in the obedience of Christ, and this is the righteousness granted us as a gift that constitutes us righteous.

    Now that the necessisity for both the passive and active obedience of Christ, to fulfill all righteousness, has been established, the report then goes on to explain how that righteousness is imputed to believers, beginning on page 49:

    If Christ endured the curse of the law so that our sins might be forgiven (passive obedience) and performed the requirements of the law so that God’s demand for perfect obedience might be satisfied (active obedience), then the benefits of this objective work must also be applied to us in the act of justification itself. According to the Reformed tradition, our sins become Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ becomes ours by means of imputation. That is, our sins are judicially reckoned or credited to Christ (whereby he does not become inherently sinful), and his righteousness is judicially reckoned or credited to us (whereby we do not become inherently righteous). In back of this lies the doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s first sin to his posterity.

  135. David deJong said,

    April 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    134. Thanks for the more detailed references. I have downloaded the report to peruse at my leisure.

    Evidently the Report does say things that I disagree with, such as the first bolded quote you gave. It is remarkable, however, that in their more detailed exegetical work they are not able to be so explicit. This is because they are discussing passages like Phil 2 under the active obedience! If Phil 2 is “active obedience” in its precise theological sense (as opposed to “passive obedience”), then everything is muddled. After all, Phil 2 is one of the clearest statements of Christ’s humbling himself unto death – his suffering for us. Another clear example of this muddling is the Report’s citation of Lk 9 (“he set his face towards Jerusalem”) as an example of active obedience. Only if you completely broaden the definition of “active obedience” (so that it no longer has the precise theological sense of being a contrast with “passive obedience” and more generally refers to Christ’s whole life [see Ron Henzel's posts]) will this work. But if you so broaden the definition, you no longer are proving what the quotes above say, namely, that Christ’s death is for our forgiveness and his obedience is for our righteousness.

    I’m really quite hostile to the notion that Christ’s death brought us back to some neutral state which needed to be augmented by his positive merits. To me, this denigrates precisely what Paul exults in: that all our righteousness is predicated on the one sacrifice of Christ for us on the cross.

  136. April 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

    [...] Keister reviewed Michael Williams’ volume on covenant theology and offers this related [...]

  137. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I just have to add my 2 cents on the Rom. 5 passage. I haven’t seen anyone actually look at the grammar of the passage to see if there is different usage that distinguishes the enos as an attributive adjective from enos as a substantive. Cranfield goes by sheer numbers: the majority of uses are masculine…but simply counting up other uses of the term does not dictate what a particular use of the term means.

    The major syntactical point is this: when enos is used by itself as a substantive, it is used with the article: v. 15 b and 17a, in fact, both have the phrase to tou enos paraptomati to clearly refer to the “transgression of the one”–i.e., “one man.” This is also in 17a–dia tou enos–and in 19b–dia tes upakoes tou enos. In fact, even when enos is used as an masculine attributive with a noun, it is almost always articular: 15b, 17b, and 19a.

    The first two examples are especially strong, though, since v. 18 clearly does not use this form with paraptoma, which sets up the parallel with dikaioma. This parallel is further illuminated by v. 16, which clearly indicates that paraptoma is one action, in contrast to the pollon paraptomaton, indicating that the dikaioma of v. 18 is also one specific action. For additional reflection, notice that in v. 16 dikaioma is contrasted with katakrima–judgment or condemnation, which means that it would need to mean “acquittal” or “justification” in v. 16. That actually fits with the idea that the resurrection was Jesus’ “justification”–in the sense of “being declared righteous,” which was a verdict properly merited by him, not imputed from another, and thus our (cf. 4:25b).

    Now, the hupakoes of v. 19 might be taken to be broader, especially given the fact that through it many are established as dikaioi, which may focus more on the innate property than the forensic verdict. Nevertheless, I really don’t think that v. 18 indicates IAO.

    !!!THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT I DENY IOA!!! I’m just a fan of “right doctrine from the right texts,” and I don’t think that Rom. 5:16-18 actually supports IAO as classically formulated.

  138. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Furthermore, the place that Paul speaks most clearly of eschatological life seems to be connected to Jesus’ resurrection, rather than his active obedience–i.e., 1 Cor. 15:42ff.

  139. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 12, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t know that I’m seeing anything clearly as a direct reward of the AO:

    -forgiveness of sins is passed on the suffering
    -authority is from humility (Phil. 2)
    -eschatological life is based on the resurrection (1 Cor. 15, Rom. 6)

    What about adoption? The strongest case of IAO actually seems to me to be the filial recapitulation that structures the Gospel of Matthew in particular: Jesus re-enacts and embodies every stage of Israel’s (failed) sonship as the federal king (thus surpassing David and Solomon), but perfectly, thus meriting the repeated appellation of Son of God, fulfilling both Ps. 2 and the Exodus. Of course, this adoption is ultimately Adamic (cf. Luke’s genealogy), and is the fulfillment of the dominion mandate (Matt. 28), so it is connected to the authority that Paul bases on the Logos’ humility in Phil. 2…

    I guess that’s a reminder that these are facets of the person and work of the totus Christus, the whole Christ, and they can’t be easily divided up and separated…

  140. December 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    [...] seminary.” Now, Lane has provided us with an even stronger example. In his latest post, a review of Michael Williams’ Far as the Curse is Found, Lane demonstrates that Williams clearly denies the bi-covenantal structure of the Westminster [...]

  141. Zack said,

    March 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I attended Covenant Seminary prior to the publishing of Far as the Curse is Found. I was in Williams’ class in 1998. Williams and I did not get along, I’ll readily admit that. I think our personalities didn’t mesh. All of this is here-say about Williams being more open about his mono-covenantal views before FV and NPP became a problem. He’s not closet FV. I was privy to his view before there was controversy. I’m sorry but I don’t remember him espousing only one covenant. I clearly remember that our final exam oral and we had to take it the test in groups of three. I remember vividly that one of the questions even dealt with the New Covenant. One of the guys in my group labored hard to show how nothing was really new about the New Covenant. Meanwhile I vehemently disagreed, citing biblical passages and what Dr. Williams said in class. At the end of the final, Williams sided with me, stating that my friend had missed the point. Williams is bi-covenantal. The problem is how people hear him. There was an FV element (student element) at Covenant that was eager to have a prof. on their side. They took liberties with his teachings. As for the Law/Gospel, he confessional Reformed in that respect.

    I tend to use more Confessional language than Williams in regard to the covenant of works, etc. But as for Covenant as relationship…you can’t get around it. It is an agreement yes, but it is an agreement in the context of a relationship. Have you checked the First Catechism lately? If not then you might be a little surprised at the definition it lays out. I know it my heart because I work with children. “What is a covenant?” “A relationship that God establishes with us and guarantees by His Word.” Just a heads up there.

  142. December 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    […] Rayburn brought up this comment on my blog by Sean Lucas. That Sean Lucas and I would disagree about the import of Michael […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: